ALTHOUGH public parks in the Klang Valley are off limits under the movement control order (MCO), several people can still be seen visiting parks and taking walks or jogging around their neighbourhood.
A viral video showing an argument between a law enforcement officer and a person who was out jogging on his own has raised questions about whether it is permitted to exercise outside during the two-week MCO.
The person argued that no curfew had been imposed while the officer insisted that he should go home.
“This is a situation where actually both sides are right, but the important thing now is how to avoid this kind of confrontation, ” said Alliance of Safe Committee chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
“We do not have a curfew. It is not the case that nobody can leave the house, we only have a partial lockdown.
“On the other hand, the law enforcer is doing his job and is right in the sense that the Prime Minister has asked everyone to stay home.
“To stop such confrontations from taking place, there needs to be clear guidelines by the government regarding the quarantine and lockdown, ” he added.
Lee said there was a dire need for clarity, as this video was a clear example of a grey area.
“A clearer guideline regarding the do’s and don’ts should be issued in the next couple of days.
“It can be as clearcut as saying that people can only work out at home and not outside, and can only go to grocery stores and such, ” he added.
However, if the authorities allow one person to take a stroll, others may follow suit, Lee pointed out.
“Then, it becomes a crowd. There’s always a risk, ” he said, adding that when faced with a crisis, human rights must give way to more important issues such as national and international security.
Outdoors is off-limits
Local councils in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur told StarMetro that the public had been advised to stay indoors and refrain from even walking in their neighbourhood.
In Subang Jaya, although not all public parks in residential areas have been sealed off, that does not mean that they are open.
The gate to Subang Ria park was closed and a notice was posted stating it would be closed during the MCO, but there were no such signs in other parks around the jurisdiction of Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ).
“Closure does not mean we have to seal the parks physically with tape or place cones, ” said a spokesman.
In a notice, MPSJ president Noraini Roslan said all parks were closed with immediate effect under the MPSJ Park Bylaw 2005.
“This is in line with the MCO from March 18 to 31. Anyone found flouting the bylaw can be ordered to get out of the park and charged.
“If convicted, the offender can be fined up to RM2,000 or face jail time up to a year or both. And for a continuous offence, there will be an additional fine of no more than RM200 per day for each day of the offence, ” she said.
However, people were seen going to neighbourhood parks despite the MCO.
Chew Ying Ern, 28, spotted two people at the park in Jalan PU 3/2A in Puchong.
“Maybe they think they won’t be at risk of getting or spreading Covid-19 because no other people were there.
“But if everyone had the same thought, what’s the point of the MCO?”
USJ 11/3 Residents Association and Rukun Tetangga chairman Singam Muniandy also saw someone jogging around his residential area and people going to the neighbourhood park.
“It is important that residents understand what Covid-19 actually is. It is an airborne virus which is spreading at an extremely rapid rate resulting in a pandemic.
“I strongly advise everyone to follow the rules implemented by MPSJ. The best thing to do is to stay home.
“If you wish to maintain your fitness, you can do things like calisthenics, yoga, simple cardio or other exercises at home, ” he said.
Another resident who wished to remain anonymous said he spotted some people gathering at the park gazebo on the first night of the MCO and called the police.
He also alerted police when he saw people hanging out at the neighbourhood park during the day.“We have to be the eyes and ears of the authorities, ” he said.
Lake Edge Residents Association secretary Mariam Osman said they had sent the MPSJ notice to residents to keep them informed.
“So far, I have not seen anyone exercising at the parks. If there are, the security guards will politely tell them to leave, ” she added.
Don’t flout MCO
In Petaling Jaya, residents were advised to abide by the rules set by the Malaysian National Security Council (NSC), which is to just stay home.
“We are just following the NSC’s ruling, which is not to even be outdoors as the moment one person does this, then many will follow and then it will turn into a crowd, ” said Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) corporate communications assistant director Ahmad Iskandar Mohamed Mukhtar.
He added that enforcement officers on patrol would ask joggers they meet to go home.
As of March 18, all public parks in Petaling Jaya have been sealed with a notice to enforce the MCO to curb the spread of Covid-19.
However, at parks such as Taman Aman, Taman Jaya, StarMetro saw a few people ducking under the seal to enter on Friday morning.
“Aside from public parks, we also advise residents not to visit their neighbourhood parks, ”
“The police can take action against those who do not adhere to the MCO, ” said Ahmad Mukhtar.
In Ampang, public parks have been sealed off by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) in accordance with the MCO.
MPAJ press relations officer Norhayati Ahmad said like the police, it had officers patrolling the parks.
“The parks under MPAJ are cordoned off and residents are not allowed to enter.
“On Wednesday, we sealed off a park in Ukay Perdana because we received complaints from nearby residents that a group of people had practised tai chi in the park at around 4am.
“They are not supposed to gather at the park at any time of the day, ” she said.
MPAJ enforcement officers who see joggers in the park or on the street will also advise them to go home.
“If they fail to listen and continue exercising, then officers will call the police to handle the matter, ” she added.
Likewise in Kuala Lumpur, exercising in public was strictly prohibited for the duration of the order, said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) enforcement director Azmi Abdul Hamid.
“That said, it is more suitable for the police to handle this issue of individuals who walk or jog in their own neighbourhoods, ” he added.
Similarly, Sepang Municipal Council also urged residents to stay away from public places, including parks and streets, and stay home.
Shah Alam City Council corporate communications head Shahrin Ahmad advised residents to stay home.
“We urge everyone to stop all outdoor activities as you are not even allowed to be out of the house unless really necessary, ” he said.
In Klang too, brisk walks outdoors are a no-no.
“We have enforcement officers going round to check regularly and if they see anyone exercising or walking on the street, they will order them to go home, ” said Klang Municipal Council corporate communications director Norfiza Mahfiz.
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