Reach out and be clear about movement control order, govt told

The Malaysian Bar says the government through its ministries must step up and inform the public the very purpose of the movement control order which came into effect today.

Commenting on mass movement of people at bus and police stations last night, and reports of people gathering to have meals at eateries in Penang and Sibu this morning, Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir said such mass movement of people defeats the purpose of the movement control order.

“It is not business as usual and is certainly not Cuti-Cuti Malaysia season,” Salim said.

“The optics of a partial lockdown is to restrict movements and contain the (Covid-19) situation by having minimal contact between people.”

Salim said Covid-19 cases in Malaysia could spike further if people treat this period as a ‘holiday’.

“Except for emergencies or any other forceful reasons, a person should not be allowed to travel.

“The authorities can’t say one thing today and scrap the ruling a few hours later when things get out of hand. We need to learn from other countries that have imposed lockdowns.”

Salim said this is why there must be clear communication so the public understands how this restricted movement order works.

He, however, said the public alone cannot be solely blamed for they may not know how to deal with the situation.

“Covid-19 is something new and it is the same for the movement control order. We cannot solely push the blame to the public as they may not know how to deal with this situation and what the directive is all about.

“The respective ministries involved should come out and be explicit about the direction. They have to let the public know what is expected of them during this period.”

Salim said he found it disturbing that university students were told to pack up and go home and this resulted in students thronging bus stations to head back to their hometowns.

“The Higher Education Ministry, for example, must advise students to not travel or advise the universities to not treat this period as a semester break.

“Other ministries, including the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, should also come out to say that night markets or pasar tani should not operate.

“The authorties need to be focused with their direction and enforcement too must be in place for the movement control order to achieve its objectives,” he said.

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded its first two fatalities in the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. As at 5pm yesterday, 673 Covid-19 cases had been recorded nationwide.

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