Published: 13 September 2021
Mr Yip Hon Weng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether the Ministry will review the penalties for those who run illegal massage and karaoke outlets to make jail sentences mandatory; and (b) whether legislation will be enhanced to make it a serious crime for those who callously flout healthcare rules as they are endangering human lives by their actions.
1. In determining penalties for offences, there is a need to consider deterrence, and also that the penalties are proportionate with the nature of the offence.
2. Where the legislation provides for a discretionary jail term, such as under the Massage Establishments Act, the Courts may decide whether to impose a jail term, depending on the facts. We do not see a need to remove this discretion from the Courts.
3. Further, non-compliance with Safe Management rules is an offence under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, punishable by penalties of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both. Repeat offenders may be punished with a fine of up to $20,000, or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been several cases where individuals who egregiously broke the rules, have been jailed.