Police on alert as ATM withdrawals set to surge

Armed forces may also be deployed at selected areas to help monitor social distancing between individuals amid payday rush to withdraw cash

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by TMR FILE

THE police and armed forces may be stationed at banks and areas with automated teller machines (ATMs) in the next few days in anticipation of a payday rush to withdraw cash.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (picture) said the police and armed forces may be deployed at selected areas to help monitor social distancing between individuals.

“We are expecting crowds at banks and ATMs, so we hope people will make their withdrawals in a collected manner. We will be seeking assistance from the police and the armed forces, if required, to monitor these areas so that social distancing is observed.

“We may also ask the auxiliary police at banks to help limit the number of people at the premises at a time. The banks will decide how many is appropriate. I hope the public can follow the instructions given by the auxiliary police, police or armed forces who will be stationed there,” he said at a daily news conference held in Putrajaya yesterday.

Ismail Sabri said the public continues to show improvement in complying with the Movement Control Order (MCO). However, he said police may move to take legal action against those who disobey the rules. To date, a total of 1,029 roadblocks have been set up with over 163,000 vehicles checked nationwide.

He added that 23 toll plazas along interstate highways have been blocked to limit movements into major cities around the country. “Those who are planning to return to the city are advised to cancel their plans. If they are stopped at these roadblocks, they will be told to go home,” Ismail Sabri said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has taken several legal actions against those involved in the distribution of fake news. Ismail Sabri said the MCMC has 85 cases under investigation, while six individuals have been charged in court so far.

“I hope those who are engaged in the spread of fake news will stop what they are doing because the authorities will take action,” Ismail Sabri said.

The government has also set up a special task force on food supply led by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The team comprises the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

“This task force will ensure that the entire food supply chain, from farm to consumers, will not be disrupted,” Ismail Sabri said.

The government, through the Ministry of Health and National Security Council, is also looking at ways to tighten controls at locations listed as high-risk areas or red zones. “We will come out with a standard operating procedure that is more detailed on high-risk areas, or red zones,” he said.

In a separate development, Malaysian Armed Forces Chief General Tan Sri Affendi Buang said authorities will be using unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor public activity at several areas during the MCO period.

The flying devices, which can cover an area within a 3km to 5km radius, will be used to take live recordings and images of group gatherings held outdoors, he said. Authorities will then take immediate action by going to the site.