Armed forces to be deployed if MCO is defied

If the rate persists below 70%, the police are empowered to take more drastic measures, while the armed forces could be deployed to assist with patrol duties

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By ARIF KARTONO

THE armed forces would be deployed if the Movement Control Order (MCO) that began on March 18 is not adhered to.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on the first day of the MCO, the police reported that the compliance rate was only at 60%.

He said if the rate persists below 70%, the police are empowered to take more drastic measures such as arresting non-compliant individuals, while the armed forces could be deployed to assist with patrol duties.

“We hope people will comply with the order. However, as of Wednesday, since there was only 60% compliance rate, police had started to block the roads.

“About 6,135 vehicles were inspected in 504 roadblocks. More stringent measures will be taken if this persists,” he told a media conference yesterday after attending the second ministerial special committee meeting that monitors the MCO progress in Putrajaya.

He said the task force, which was established with the approval of the Cabinet on Wednesday, comprises 19 ministers, the chief secretary, the National Security Council (NSC), IGP, chief of defence forces, the attorney general, as well as secretary generals of all relevant ministries.

The committee will meet every day to coordinate all related matters according to Covid-19 updates during the 14 days restriction, which is expected to end on March 31. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin appealed to the public to “stay at home” in his second special address, two days after announcing the MCO, which seemed to not be taken seriously by certain quarters.

On the first day of the MCO, the media reported various activities and incidents throughout the country that showed ignorance among the public.

Bernama also reported a significant increase in the number of cars on the road on Wednesday night itself.

“We’ve also discussed the possibility of utilising the armed forces if the situation gets out of control. We hope it won’t get to that extent, but if we were left with no choice, and the compliance rate is only at 60% to 70%, we might have to do it,” Ismail said.

He added that army personnel could also be deployed in rural areas to fortify the number of existing security personnel.

Ismail said the authorities will also strictly monitor national borders to ensure everything is in order in accordance with the MCO.

“The Immigration will also brief us on the number of Malaysians who are currently overseas and the necessary steps that could be taken if they opt to come back to Malaysia,” he added.

As for the 300,000 employees from Johor Baru who cross the causeway to work in Singapore every day, Ismail said both nations have agreed to allow them to continue working in the republic, provided that their employers provide adequate accommodations for them.

“We are discussing it and will be announced soon,” he said.