Malaysia will consider deploying the armed forces should the compliance rate for the nationwide movement control order remain low, said the country’s Defence Minister Ismail Sabri.
Ismail, who is also one of Malaysia’s four new Senior Ministers, told reporters on Thu (19 Mar) that according to police, the compliance rate was 60 to 70 per cent on the first day the order took effect yesterday.
“We will most likely deploy the military should we find that the situation is not under total control … I don’t think it is necessary, but if we have no choice … I believe there is a high likelihood that the armed forces will be utilised in this situation,” he said.
Ismail also said that police have conducted roadblocks throughout the country to ensure that people are conforming to the order.
As of Wed, he said, around 6,135 vehicles were inspected by police in 504 roadblocks.
However, said Ismail, police have only advised the public to comply with the order so far.
“I believe that the police will take more stringent measures and resort to using the law against those who refuse, should the compliance rate stay low,” he said, adding that district police chiefs were instructed to do so since yesterday.
Ismail also told reporters that a special multi-ministry taskforce for Ministers in relation to the enforcement of the order was established in a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
The taskforce was jointly set up with the nation’s police and military chiefs.
The Malaysian government on Mon night (16 Mar) announced a nationwide restricted movement order in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in a televised address said that the order will take effect until the end of this month on 31 Mar.
The order, made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967, will see tightened border controls by imposing prohibitions on both outbound and inbound travel.
Malaysians are not allowed to travel outside the country throughout the imposition of the order, and citizens who have recently returned from overseas are required to undergo health tests and a 14-day self-quarantine.
Tourists and other foreign visitors will not be allowed to enter Malaysia during the period in which the order takes effect.
All business premises, schools and higher learning institutions, and other forms of premises whether public or private, as well as places of worship are subject to the order and will be required to shut down during the stipulated period.
Exemptions, however, apply to all essential services such as utilities, telecommunications, postal services, transport, broadcasting, financial and banking services, and health services — among several other sectors.
Supermarkets and other businesses selling food supplies will also be exempted from the shutdown requirement during the order.