[UPDATE @ 1.26AM] The IGP has stated that the ban on interstate travel remains and passage is only allowed for special cases. Special permits granting the right for Malaysians to travel between state lines will not be issued simply to anyone who requests one.
Special exemptions to the ban will only be made for those faced with the following:
- The death of a close family member
- Critical illness of a close relative
- The requirement of medical treatment, for themselves, or a close family member
- Other situations which will be weighed by the police
Otherwise, interstate travel is still prohibited.
[UPDATE @ 11.27PM] PDRM has rescinded the ban on interstate travelling at the eleventh hour. This follows an overwhelming influx of people heading to police stations on Tuesday, 17 March to seek permission to travel out of state. The IGP said the ban is temporarily withdrawn until a decision is made later at a meeting on Wednesday (18 March). People are still strongly advised to stay home and limited their travel.
With the Government’s Movement Control Order (MCO) ready to take effect at the stroke of midnight, 18 March 2020, Malaysians are in for another surprise. The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) earlier this evening announced a restriction in interstate travel for all. In line with that, those who need to travel interstate will be required to get documented approval from the police prior to their journey.
The inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador in a press briefing in Bukit Aman earlier said that the measures were part of the MCO and are aimed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The MCO already bans all inbound and outbound international travel.
Those seeking to travel interstate must have valid reasons to do so, for instance, for important matters or emergencies. He stressed that social travel is prohibited.
To seek approval, you will need to fill up a form at the nearest police station with your contact details, whereabouts as well as vehicle details. If approved, the police will stamp on the form and you will need to retain a tear-away piece for reference.
It is understood that inter-district travel (PJ-KL) within Klang Valley does not require documented approval.
The IGP said at this juncture, the police will not openly enforce checks but will use the next few days to gauge how the public adheres to the order. If they find people flouting the order, they will decide on taking stricter action.
Already, there have been flocks of people rushing and crowding at police stations. Floods of people were seen at transport hubs trying to get bus and train tickets to head back to their hometowns before the midnight deadline. Movement control? What movement control? Why are people travelling?
If the purpose of the exercise was to reduce the amassing of people, this looks to be counterproductive. The PDRM could have perhaps used digital means instead of paper forms to reduce physical contact. With the reported flocks of people at police stations, the stations themselves run a risk of becoming potential COVID-19 clusters in the days ahead.
With the first two fatalities from the coronavirus reported today, Malaysia is in a critical state. The MCO is a positive, proactive move but some things need to be better thought out and communicated. The people, too, need to awaken and take this seriously. In order to fight this pandemic effectively, there needs to be a concerted effort from all sides. At this point, that’s sorely lacking.
Malaysia recorded 120 new cases today, bringing the total number to 673 cases. Of the total, 95 cases are related to the Masjid Jamek Seri Petaling mosque cluster.
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