A Singaporean man who recently visited Genting Highlands was fined for smoking by people he believed to be posing as government officials.
The Singaporean, who prefers to be known as Tan, was at the tourist attraction on June 4.
The 47-year-old told Mothership he was smoking on the fourth floor at an area outside SkyAvenue, a shopping mall in Resorts World Genting, when he was approached by a group of people who claimed to be officers from the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
The group issued Tan a summons for smoking there, despite the fact that there was no sign stating it was illegal to do so.
He pointed out that in a video he filmed of the area, the "No Smoking" sign was only displayed on the wall near the toilets.
Tan said that the people were not dressed in uniform or provided any form of identification to show they worked for the government, so he thought they might not have been actual officials.
He believes the entire group of them to be Malaysian.
He was then told he would be fined RM250 (S$78.31) for smoking.
He was also informed he could pay off the fine on the spot by handing them RM150 (S$46.98) in cash.
Despite feeling uncertain about the situation, Tan decided to simply pay the fine on the spot, but he filled in the form given to him with fake information and contact details.
Fined others who took out e-cigarette
After Tan paid the fine, he noticed the group of 'officers' immediately move on to others in the same area.
He observed two other men with e-cigarettes were also issued with summons even though they had yet to use the devices. He presumed these men were also Singaporeans.
Although the men tried to challenge the 'officers' about the fine, the group insisted on the men's supposed indiscretion.
Tan shared photos and a video of the people who claimed to be officers sitting down at an outdoor seating area with those who were fined to record the alleged offences and collect cash.
Although the 'officers' were not rude when approaching smokers, Tan noted that when others tried to avoid being issued with the summons, the 'officers' would "stick with" them and insisted that it was "the law".
While the other smokers tried arguing back, they eventually paid the RM150 fine as well.
Officers elsewhere provided identification
Tan compared his experience at Genting Highlands with what he noticed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Smokers were also fined but he noticed that these officers provided identification and smokers were not asked to pay the fine upfront in cash.
These people, he believed, were "genuine" officials.
Following his experience at Genting Highlands, Tan shared that he felt "scammed".
"It's not a nice experience at all to be fine[d] at outdoor area," he said, and speculated that the people he believed to be posing as officers could have collected thousands of cash in a day from unsuspecting smokers like him.
By sharing this, he simply wishes to warn Singaporean smokers heading to the area to be wary of such people.
Mothership understands that on June 4, there was a "genuine operation" conducted by health ministry officials from Raub and Bentong, Pahang.
Mothership has reached out to the Ministry of Health, Pahang Health Department for a statement, and will update this story when they reply.
Penalties for smoking
From Jan. 1, 2022, smokers can be penalised for taking a puff at Malaysia eateries nationwide. They can be slapped with a compound fine of RM250 for first and second offences, and RM350 (S$109.91) for a third offence.
Food and beverage outlets which allow patrons to light up will also be fined.
Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said that first-time offenders can have their compound fines reduced to RM150 if payment is made at any District Health Office within one month from the date the fine was issued.
Top photo courtesy of Tan