KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Police could take firmer action against Malaysians flouting the movement control order (MCO) as arrests doubled yesterday while vehicle traffic also rose, senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said.
Ismail Sabri said that the police arrested 649 individuals yesterday, up from 320 arrests the day before.
“Yesterday alone, there were 649 individuals that were arrested, which means it doubled from the day before. And from the 649 who were arrested, 73 of them were charged in court and pleaded guilty, which means when sterner action was implemented, we find that many still disobey the orders.
“The police have been given the permission to take stern action. Among others possibly those that will be done immediately is the issuance of compounds, besides bringing them to court,” the defence minister said in a press conference today.
As for roadblocks by the police, Ismail Sabri said that these continued with 997 roadblocks last night, with more vehicles being inspected yesterday as compared to the day before.
“From the day before — over 200,000 — to yesterday where 301,938 vehicles have been inspected, that means there are still many vehicles on the road. That’s why the inspections have doubled, more than the day before,” he said.
Noting that many premises were still found to be open yesterday despite not being in the government’s allowed list of premises providing essential goods such as food and health products, Ismail Sabri said the police yesterday inspected 3,223 premises and had ordered some of them to close.
Ismail Sabri today did not give a percentage of the level of Malaysians’ compliance to the movement control order.
In the same press conference, Ismail Sabri also denied a news report that cited him allegedly listing places that would be put under a lockdown, clarifying that he had never made such a statement to any news organisation.
Ismail Sabri described such reports of a purported “lockdown” as untrue, reinforcing his clarification yesterday that the MCO imposed in Malaysia now is not a lockdown.
Ismail Sabri also said the government could possibly announce new standard operating procedures for the MCO’s second phase.
The government had initially announced a movement control order from March 18 to March 31, but has since extended it to April 14.