Defence Minister: It’s not Emergency, cops still leading ops despite Armed Forces’ involvement

Army personnel from Regimen 502 Askar Wataniah, Kem Sungai Buloh arrive at IPD Shah Alam to assist the police in enforcing the movement control order (MCO), March 22, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Army personnel from Regimen 502 Askar Wataniah, Kem Sungai Buloh arrive at IPD Shah Alam to assist the police in enforcing the movement control order (MCO), March 22, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — The Armed Forces will follow the police’s lead and the Special Task Force head by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to help keep order for the movement control order (MCO), Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

He said that the public should not be afraid or make wrongful assumptions that the army will act violently as their deployment comes under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 only, not enforcing the dreaded Emergency Ordinance.

“The army is only here to help the police, such as helping to tell people to stay home,” he told reporters after a special meeting on the MCO and Covid-19 pandemic in Putrajaya.

“It is true that under the Act there is a sentence of two years’ imprisonment, but at this level we are still advising the civilians but this level may change.

“Since this is not an emergency the lead is with the police and even the power to arrest is still with the police,” he added.

Ismail said that 50,000 personnel from the police, Armed Forces, Malaysian Marine Enforcement Agency (APMM), Malaysian Volunteers Corps (Rela), local councils and others are now being deployed all over the country to help with the MCO.

He said that the police and army personnel will be manning roadblocks and patrol high-risk areas such as supermarkets and markets to ensure Malaysians obey social distancing rules during the movement control order period.

“I want to advise consumers, we understand your need to buy daily necessities, but please, observe social distancing.

“To ensure this, we have allowed the police and army to be in markets and supermarkets.

“We find that people in several areas are still not following the order, such as in the morning markets and supermarkets.

“We see customers crowding together. They are not following the advice to practise social distancing by standing at least one metre apart,” he said.

Ismail said local and municipal council officers have been given authority to be present at markets and supermarkets to ensure shoppers abide by social distancing rules.

However he said deployments of officers will be done by the Special Task Force chaired by the IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador.

“We will also see where more deployment is needed, we’ll look at places with a higher risk of transmission.

“For rural areas, I see we could be deploying more Rela officers,” he said.

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