Army will be deployed to help

KUALA LUMPUR: The army will be deployed at midnight on Sunday to assist police in enforcing the movement control order (MCO), says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said the government hoped the enforcement would be better with the army’s backing.

“We believe that with the army’s assistance, the movement control will be better enforced,” he said at a press conference yesterday on non-health related matters after a special meeting by ministers on the MCO implementation.

Ismail Sabri said the army would assist the police in ensuring people stayed in their homes.

He said the police had reported that the adherence to the order was increasing but there were still incidents of people who disregarded it, such as those who still played games outdoors, went to playgrounds and eat at food outlets.

He added that the police had also said that if the advice was not heeded, stern action had to be taken, which includes arresting those who refuse to adhere to the MCO.

“I hope we don’t have to come to that stage,” he said.

Ismail Sabri denied that the government was going to invoke the emergency order and urged the people not to believe fake news.

On Thursday, he said there were many postings on social media which caused panic, and one claimed that the defence minister was imposing the emergency order after receiving the approval from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

There were also claims that the army machinery was ready to move in, he noted.

“I am not sure which defence minister said this because I did not plan to announce a state of emergency.

“I hope the people will not easily believe such fake news,” he said, urging the public not to panic and rush out to buy groceries but contact the relevant ministries if they were unsure of any news.

He also denied rumours of the army planning to spray insecticide to kill the Covid-19 virus.

Ismail Sabri said some had questioned under which law could the army be deployed.

He said that besides the Emergency Ordinance, Section 5 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 provided for the power of the Health Minister to appoint or empower any agencies that he thinks is needed to control or implement the regulations.

He said that there was no dispute about the role of the police and army to implement a government’s order.

Asked if a RM1,000 fine would be imposed on those who break the MCO, he said the government was planning to enforce it soon if people did not abide by it.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri also said that employers were not allowed to compel their workers to take no-pay leave during the MCO period.

He also urged the 4,000 and more tabligh participants who had attended the mass gathering at the mosque in Sri Petaling from Feb 27 to March 1 to go to the nearest hospital and clinic to be screened.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office called on the public to follow orders issued by the authorities to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The statement said stern action would be taken against those who did not comply with the enforcement of the MCO.

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