Ismail Sabri: 10km radius travel rule not mandatory, police may use discretion over medical needs

Police and Armed Forces personnel conduct checks during a roadblock in Batu Uban, Penang March 31, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Police and Armed Forces personnel conduct checks during a roadblock in Batu Uban, Penang March 31, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today said that the government’s 10km-radius travel rule is not mandatory, as the police have been given discretionary powers to allow a further travel distance, based on needs.

Ismail Sabri said that this applies to those seeking medical treatment in hospitals or treatment facilities further than the stipulated 10km radius, as well as for those who need to buy items which are not found in their area.

He said that though the government bans all interstate travel, exceptions can still be made for those which are less than the said radius, pointing to Petaling Jaya and Bangsar, as well as Segamat and Gemas as examples.

“As we know, every law cannot be too specific, too detailed to cover all individuals. So in these laws, as a general rule, it states that the movement can only be within the 10km radius.

“However, the police are allowed to use discretion in different cases. For example, we allow them to buy food products if they are not available within the 10km radius.

“They definitely can go to find the food items beyond an area exceeding 10km, that is the closest — meaning if it’s 11km, we still allow,” he said during a press conference broadcast “live” today.

He said that he was aware of the issue of people being forced to turn back, as their hospitals are further than the 10km radius.

“So if it involves health issues and the like, and the facility is located more than 10km away, the police are also given discretionary powers to allow the journey of the individuals and parties,” he added.

Codeblue, a news website focusing on Malaysia’s healthcare issues, yesterday reported the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) medical director Dr M. Murallitharan alleging that two cancer patients from Kuala Lumpur were prohibited from seeking treatment in Ampang, Selangor, and Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

The report further quoted him saying that another patient was turned back in Melaka on April 1 while a cancer patient was prevented from travelling from Temerloh, Pahang, to get medical services in Kuala Terengganu also on the same day.

“What is worrying is that currently even though there are some clarifications coming out that legitimate medical requests will be allowed (in terms of travel), that is not what is happening on the ground.

“We are getting feedback of patients being turned back despite having legitimate paperwork. So better instructions need to flow to the ground enforcement level,” Dr Murallitharan reportedly said.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba had also clarified today, that special leeway would be given by the authorities, to allow those seeking medical attention and medication outside the 10km radius as stipulated within the regulations of the movement control order (MCO), to continue their journey.

The minister conceded that such leeway was required to ensure those in need of medical attention are able to receive treatment, adding there is no reason to prevent their movements if their health is at stake.

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