Prison academies to be gazetted as makeshift jails

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE government will gazette 13 prison academies as temporary jails following an increase in the number of arrested violators throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the decision was made on Tuesday amid concerns of overcrowded cells, making social distancing impossible behind bars.

“The Home Affairs Ministry will gazette 13 academies as additional prisons for MCO violators. This will address the issue of social distancing. The standard operating procedures at the academies will be the same as any other prisons in the country,” he said in his daily briefing yesterday.

Ismail Sabri said details on the measure will be refined and discussed with the Royal Malaysia Police, Attorney General’s Chamber and the Malaysian Prisons Department.

Malaysia has recorded a total of 9,702 arrests as of April 14, with 612 individuals held on Tuesday.

Ismail Sabri had previously said there will be no compromise on arrests made against people who flout the movement curbs as many continue to disregard public orders directing them to remain at home.

The country has one of the highest tallies of coronavirus infections in South-East Asia, with over 5,000 confirmed cases. Malaysia has also reported more than 80 deaths and 2,500 recoveries as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri said a consensus was reached at the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday to allow food deliveries to operate for Ramadhan e-bazaars.

However, further considerations are needed for other ordering concepts, including physical pick-ups and drive-through.

“We will need to have a closer look at other options as it will cause more cars to be on the road. Many people will leave their homes at the same time and this will create a lot of traffic.

“Another concern is, it will give people more reasons to go out and this will make things difficult for the police. So, we’ve agreed on the delivery. The rest needs further scrutiny,” Ismail Sabri said.

On Monday, the government announced a nationwide prohibition on Ramadhan bazaars throughout the MCO period.

However, several states, including Selangor, Pahang and the Federal Territories, had announced Ramadhan e-bazaars which will operate via drive-thru, pick-up and e-hailing deliveries.

The third phase of the MCO, which is in effect from April 15 to April 28, has been extended into the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan. The holy month is expected to begin on April 24.

Separately, Ismail Sabri said the resumption of domestic flights from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak is to help send home those in transit who have served their mandatory quarantine period.

“If we don’t find ways to help them go back, they will have to wait for another two weeks until May 1.

“At the moment, these flights are operating once a week, although there are suggestions to do it twice a week. We will see what the demand is like over the next few weeks,” Ismail Sabri said.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong announced on Tuesday that Malaysia Airlines Bhd will resume service between Kuala Lumpur and Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu, starting this week.