Reopen public parks, urges Zuraida

Confusing times: Members of the public reading a notice at the park next to Taman Awam Bukit Kiara stating that it was still closed. Many are left baffled as some parks are allowed to remain open.

PETALING JAYA: All public recreational parks should be opened to enable people to exercise but with strict adherence to the SOP, says the Housing and Local Government Minister.

Zuraida Kamaruddin said that only parks ordered to be closed by the National Security Council (NSC) should be off limits to the public.

She said keeping recreational parks open during the movement control order was in line with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s remarks in announcing MCO 2.0, adding that the Prime Minister had stated that it was important for the people to be physically and mentally fit as the country battled the pandemic.

“Local authorities and the police can ensure that the people follow the SOP strictly while at the park. They will make sure that the parks are not crowded and be potential infection sources,” she said.

She was asked to comment on the inconsistency of some parks being open for recreation while others were kept closed.

The issue has been a hot topic on social media, with videos of police asking people to leave while they exercised, despite strictly following the SOP.

Meanwhile, a source from the NSC said that while public parks should in general remain closed during the MCO period, local authorities had the authority to open and manage parks with strict SOP.

“Parks are under local government jurisdiction and they need not apply to the NSC to be opened,” said the source.

Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who raised the issue of the inconsistency on Jan 23, welcomed the announcement by Zuraida.

“This is a step in the right direction in line with what the Prime Minister has said. In this pandemic, one cannot stay cooped up for long without having a place to take a walk and breathe fresh air.

“That said, what is important is for those who use the parks to not take for granted the SOP in place,” he said.

“If you are merely taking a walk, wear a mask and practise physical distancing. Do not go in twos or threes, please listen to the authorities.

“People need to exercise to increase their immunity, especially the high-risk groups. I pity those living in low-cost flats and houses where they have hardly any space to move about, let alone exercise,” he added.

Lee said public parks were also important for millions of urbanites who had no other place to exercise.

On Jan 11, in announcing the declaration of a state of an emergency, Muhyiddin said the government realised the need for people to be mentally and physically fit.

He said that people were allowed to go out for sporting activities but only among members from the same household.

On Jan 14, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob stated that public parks in states under MCO would be closed for recreational and sports activities and people could only frequent neighbourhood parks.

This caused confusion to the public who thought they could venture out for jogging or cycling while adhering to the SOP.

On Jan 17, as parks in Kuala Lumpur closed, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa stepped in to reopen public recreation parks under his purview.

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