Comply with MCO and it may be lifted by Ramadan, Putrajaya assures

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says compliance with the second phase of the MCO will be key in avoiding an extension.

PUTRAJAYA: Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has allayed concerns that the movement control order (MCO) could be extended further and affect the upcoming fasting month, urging Malaysians to continue complying with the government’s instructions.

“If the people continue to comply with every order and SOP (standard operating procedure) from the government, I believe our fears on an MCO extension can be resolved,” he said at a press conference today.

Ismail said the people’s compliance with the second phase of the MCO would be key in avoiding an extension, acknowledging that many Malaysians wanted life to return to normalcy.

Ramadan begins about three weeks from now and Hari Raya Aidilfitri will fall in late May.

Ismail said 742 individuals were arrested yesterday during roadblocks and patrols by the police and the army, a lower figure compared to the 828 arrests the day before.

“I hope this trend of a drop in arrests daily will continue as it shows that people are more aware of the need to comply with the government’s orders,” he said.

He said 165 people had been charged in court and six individuals punished with a fine or prison sentence.

He gave an assurance that there would not be crowded lockups as those detained would either be fined or given bail after being taken to the police station, adding that health protocols would be observed by the authorities.

Ismail said Putrajaya would also begin isolating all Malaysians returning from abroad in special quarantine centres from April 3, noting that many new cases overseas involved citizens returning to their home countries.

He said those returning would be housed and screened at the centres, stressing that this measure was to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He also said the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) would be setting up 77 controlled fresh produce markets across the nation to address the issue of crowded wet markets.

The markets would only sell wet goods such as fish, chicken and vegetables, and would be monitored by the authorities to ensure social distancing was observed.

Ismail also announced that the army would be mobilising its assets to deliver basic goods to families dwelling in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.

“We realised that the delivery of basic goods is quite difficult for the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak. We have received complaints from residents in the rumah panjang, for example.

“They do not have to worry because the government will always ensure that their food supply is sufficient,” he said.