SOP needed before allowing students to go home

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & NUR HANANI AZMAN/ pic by BERNAMA

THE government is considering the possibility of allowing students who are stranded at various institutions of higher learning (IPT) to return home once a strict standard operating procedure (SOP) is formulated and adhered to.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said this SOP is essential to prevent mass movement of some 100,000 IPT students nationwide.

“We do not want 80,000 to 100,000 of them going home at the same time. They may need to be screened first. So, we will look into the matter in detail.

“We don’t have a timeline yet. If we eventually decide to allow students to return to their homes, the National Security Council and the Ministry of Higher Education will issue an SOP to do this,” he said in his daily press briefing yesterday.

Ismail Sabri said there are also individuals who would like to return to the city to work. They have been at their hometowns for over a month and they are getting restless.

“We will see if we can allow them to travel back,” he added. On a separate issue, Ismail Sabri also urged Ramadhan bazaar organisers to return the deposit to traders.

“Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has returned the payment made by stall owners who registered with them for the bazaars, some have even allowed the deposits to be brought forward to next year’s bazaars.

“So, I urge organisers, be it local councils or others, to return the money paid by traders and not take advantage of other people’s misfortune,” he urged.

On Johor-Singapore border, Ismail Sabri said there are two links open to Malaysians who are returning from Singapore and for commercial vehicles.

“We will limit the operating time for the first link (Sultan Iskandar customs, immigration and quarantine building) from 7am-7pm.

“The Malaysia-Singapore Second Link at the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex will remain open for 24 hours. If there is an emergency, they can use that entry.”

Based on the latest report from the Immigration Department, there hasn’t been any massive return of Malaysians from Singapore so far. The average is at 400 individuals daily.

“Currently, there are 22 quarantine centres in Johor, including hotels where we have prepared 6,000 rooms. “However, we are ready if there is a sudden surge in returnees from Singapore. The National Disaster Management Agency has been tasked to prepare 4,000 additional rooms, which brings the total to 10,000 rooms,” said Ismail Sabri.

A total of 16,844 Malaysians are still undergoing mandatory isolation at 193 centres across the country. Meanwhile, the government has distributed 23.4 million face masks to households in the country, 69% of the 32.4 million that are allocated.

Ismail Sabri said since March 30, the Housing and Local Government Ministry has conducted 3,040 sanitisation operations in 107 zones, including 30 red zones, nationwide.

He said the government does not stop private companies offering sanitisation services, but stressed that these companies must follow the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and would be observed by the Fire and Rescue Department.

As of April 20, he said 16,870 people had been arrested for flouting the Movement Control Order. A total of 946 were arrested on Monday, 822 of whom were remanded.

“A further 124 are out on police bail, while 101 have been charged in court. Meanwhile, 824 roadblocks have been held with 603,314 vehicles and 6,127 premises checked nationwide.”