Cops turn back 1,200 motorists trying to ‘balik kampung’

Motorists heading for highways being stopped by policemen at roadblocks.

PUTRAJAYA: More and more people are desperately trying to “balik kampung” for Aidilfitri despite a ban on interstate travel.

Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob said 1,248 motorists were turned back when attempting to cross state boundaries yesterday.

This is more than double the 508 vehicles stopped by police at roadblocks on Friday.

Ismail had warned that police would issue compound fines to such motorists but many seem to be willing to take this risk to return to their hometowns or villages for the festive occasion.

“Luckily, the police are still only asking them to turn back. If the police issue compound fines, they will be at the losing end.”

Ismail also denied accusations that the authorities were cruel in not allowing boats carrying refugees to land here.

“We are not cruel and we even gave them food,” he said on refugee boats which had not yet entered Malaysia’s territorial boundaries.

In recent times, human rights groups have criticised the authorities for blocking boats carrying Rohingya refugees from landing due to the movement control order (MCO).

For foreigners who had crossed into Malaysia’s territorial borders, Ismail said the authorities could not chase them away, as under international law, these undocumented migrants must be brought to land.

“Then, they will be taken to the immigration depot and charged in court. If the courts, for example, sentence them to prison, they will be jailed in our country. After they serve their sentences, we will send them back.”

The cost of repatriation will either be paid by their family members or their government.

Meanwhile, Ismail voiced concern over the increasing number of people not abiding by the conditional MCO (CMCO) standard operating procedures.

Yesterday, he said, 132 people were arrested, all of whom were remanded.

On a separate matter, he said some 31,000 postgraduate students in 462 institutions of higher learning will be allowed to resume their academic activities.

These students need to conduct research in labs, workshops and design studios using specialised equipment.

Ismail also said Malaysians who held permanent residence status in other countries were allowed to return to those countries.

“But we will not allow them to come back to Malaysia until the CMCO is over. So, it is one-way for them until the CMCO is over.”

He added that all schools, be it national, private or international schools, as well as entertainment outlets, including pubs, nightclubs, and bars, are still not allowed to open.

The authorities, he said, will act against those who go against the ruling.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.