Ismail Sabri: Worst ‘balik kampung’ offenders in Selangor, Melaka, Negri Sembilan; 1,158 cars turned back yesterday

Policemen along with Army and RELA personnel join forces to man roadblocks near the Penang Bridge Toll Plaza April 3, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Policemen along with Army and RELA personnel join forces to man roadblocks near the Penang Bridge Toll Plaza April 3, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Malaysians appear to not have given up on trying their luck in travelling across state borders to “balik kampung” or return to their hometowns for Hari Raya, with the police managing to stop 1,158 vehicles who attempted to do so yesterday on the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

Despite strict prohibitions by the federal government and pleas from the Health Ministry, more than 1,000 vehicles made the last-ditch attempt to carry out interstate travel to their hometowns yesterday (May 23).

Ismail Sabri noted that the police yesterday carried out 162 interstate roadblocks throughout the country with 157,364 vehicles inspected, and that police had ordered 1,158 vehicles to turn back after they were found attempting to move from state to state to return to their hometowns.

Out of the 1,158 vehicles, a total of 676 or 58 per cent were detected in three states alone.

“States that recorded the highest number of attempts to cross state borders to return to their hometown are Selangor (460), Melaka (121) and Negri Sembilan (95),” he said in a statement today.

Malaysia is currently under a conditional movement control order (CMCO) until June 9, with government regulations placing restrictions on movements, including only allowing interstate travel for those going “to and from work” without a requirement for police permission, while interstate travel for a “special and particular reason” still requires getting written permission from the police first.

Ismail Sabri has repeatedly reminded Malaysians in his daily press conferences that interstate travel is not allowed except for work or emergency purposes, with police permits required for interstate travel.

Based on the daily statistics provided by the government, the number of vehicles who had attempted to carry out “balik kampung” trips and were ordered to turn back are 508 vehicles out of 238,500 checked on May 15, 1,248 out of 218,027 checked (May 16), 1,175 out of 156,096 (May 17), 1,633 out of 250,891 inspected (May 18), 3,212 out of 318,082 inspected (May 19), 2,412 out of 271,646 inspected (May 20), 2,539 out of 264,280 (May 21), and 1,613 out of 216,594 vehicles inspected (May 22).

The peak of 3,212 vehicles ordered to turn back on May 19 was also when the number of roadblocks were the highest at 216 roadblocks, compared to other days during this period when interstate roadblocks numbered at 146 (May 15), 147 (May 16), 148 (May 17), 149 (May 18 and May 20), 154 (May 21), and 157 (May 22).

As for the states topping the list with the number of errant motorists trying to cross state borders to “balik kampung”, the highest numbers found during the May 21 roadblocks are Melaka (886), Perak (362), Penang (284); while the top three on May 22 are Selangor (329), Kedah (211) and Penang (196).

Police yesterday said that roadblocks will continue to be carried out today which is also the first day of Hari Raya to nab those attempting to carry out interstate travel and to ensure that they turn back, with the police also warning that those who had managed to slip through roadblocks would be facing action when they make the return trip after the festive season.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has also made repeated pleas to Malaysians to take the necessary precautions and make sacrifices during the Hari Raya celebrations, such as by cancelling the past traditions of holding open houses or going on house visits, postponing visits to graves, or refraining from crossing state borders to visit families to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections to the vulnerable groups such as elderly parents and relatives.

As part of continued monitoring by the authorities led by the police to ensure compliance of standard operating procedures during the CMCO, 97,552 inspections were yesterday carried out throughout the country by 3,479 teams involving 18,297 personnel, Ismail Sabri said.

A total of 7,435 supermarkets, 5,131 restaurants, 1,415 hawkers, 1,024 factories, 4,203 banks, 1,322 land transport terminals, 236 water transport terminals, 349 air transport terminals, 30,702 private vehicles, 2,052 public vehicles, 286 vessels, 10,637 public spaces, 4,045 places of worship, 944 recreation spots, and 636 construction sites were inspected yesterday, Ismail Sabri said.

The police yesterday arrested 156 individuals and remanded 50 individuals for breaching CMCO standard operating procedures (SOP), with compounds issued to 106 individuals for the violations.

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