Armed forces personnel might be deployed if public defy MCO

Serian police officers conducting a road block and checks along KM38 Jalan Kuching-Serian.

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KUCHING, March 20: The federal government does not rule out enforcing military action especially in smaller towns and rural areas if the people defy the movement control order (MCO).

According to national daily The Star, quoting Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, stern action will be taken by the federal government including the deployment of armed forces personnel to conduct roadblocks and checks if the compliance rate remained low after the “advisory period” was over.

He said the deployment of armed forces personnel could be used to make sure a higher rate of compliance as compared to the 60 per cent rate on the first day MCO was implemented.

“I hope this will not be necessary but if the compliance rate is low, there is a big possibility that the military will be used (to get people to stay at home),” Ismail Sabri told a press conference yesterday.

He explained that the use of army personnel was one of the suggestions raised at the special meeting on coronavirus (Covid-19) on non-health related matters.

Ismail Sabri also opined that the presence of armed forces might be needed more in smaller towns, rural areas and villages, where currently Rela personnel were being deployed to ensure people remained at home.

He explained that for the first two or three days, police conducted roadblocks and checks and would advise the public to remain at home.

“After that, they will change from advice to action if the public does not comply with the order,” he said.

On another note, Ismail Sabri said the police will be tracing the 4,000 participants who had yet to report themselves to be tested for Covid-19 after attended the tabligh gathering at a mosque in Sri Petaling, Selangor last month.

He revealed that the police made the decision as there were concerns that many who attended the gathering on Feb 28 had not been tested.

“While the police said that they will be doing this, I hope those who went for the event will voluntarily get themselves tested,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was reported that the majority of Covid-19 cases recorded in Malaysia were from the tabligh event.

Ismail Sabri also reminded that those who had travelled overseas would have to be quarantined for 14 days upon their return.

“We are getting details from the Immigration Department on how many Malaysians are overseas and their expected return so that necessary action can be taken,” he said in response to reports that 83 Malaysians had gone to Indonesia to attend another tabligh gathering there.

He explained that the move by the 83 people to go to Indonesia did not violate the law as they left for Indonesia before the MCO was enforced  and to a country which was not on the prohibited destination list.

“But when they return to Malaysia, they will be quarantined at the government health facility,” he pointed out. — DayakDaily