MCO detainees double as cops, army get serious on offenders

Security forces manning roadblocks have been given permission to be strict with offenders ignoring the movement control order.

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 649 people were arrested for various offences related to the movement control order (MCO) yesterday as authorities stepped up enforcement of Covid-19 containment measures nationwide.

The figure is double the number of people arrested a day earlier on Friday, according to Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

At a press conference today, Ismail said of the 659 arrested, 73 had already been charged and pleaded guilty.

“Police have been given permission to take stricter action,” he said, adding compound fines may also be imposed on offenders.

He said there were also still many cars on the road, with over 300,000 cars inspected at roadblocks nationwide yesterday. This is more than the 200,000 inspected on Friday.

Some of those stopped at roadblocks, he said, had been found to be going out four times in a day on the pretext of buying food, which made police suspicious.

“These are some examples. There are others who are still going out in groups or drinking at coffee shops together. So the police have to take action.”

Some non-essential business premises, among the over 3,000 inspected yesterday, have also been instructed to close.

Ismail also lamented the publishing of fake news items, citing a report by a business daily quoting him.

“I will not issue statements to any media; it can be considered fake news. Please only refer to my daily statements.”

Meanwhile, he said no Malaysians are allowed to travel overseas during the MCO period, while all those returning to the country will be screened at the airport.

If the returning Malaysians are suspected of carrying the virus or show symptoms, they will be quarantined.