Malaysian movement control order

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Malaysian Movement Control Order
Part of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia
Ops Covid19 Tentera Mula Operasi Bantu Pdrm Di Shah Alam.png
Police checkpoint in Shah Alam, 22 March 2020
Date18 March 2020 (2020-03-18) – 31 March 2021 (2021-03-31) (10 months and 5 days) (tentatively)
Location
Caused byCOVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia
GoalsContainment of the pandemic
Methods
  • Prohibition of movement and mass assembly nationwide, including all religious, sports, social and cultural activities.
  • All religious activities in mosques suspended, including Friday prayers
  • Malaysians barred from leaving the country, and restrictions placed on the entry of non-Malaysians into the country
  • All industries closed except for infrastructure services and supermarkets, wet markets, grocery stores and multi-functional stores selling daily necessities
  • All nurseries, government and private schools, including boarding schools, international schools, tahfiz centres, primary, secondary and pre-university education institutions, public and private universities, and vocational training centres closed
StatusIn force
Casualties
Arrested24,081 (As of 3 May 2020)[1]
Part of a series on the
History of Malaysia
The independence of Malaya and the merger proclamation of North Borneo and Sarawak to formed Malaysia.
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The Malaysian Government Movement Control Order (Malay: Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan Kerajaan Malaysia), commonly referred to as the MCO or PKP, is a cordon sanitaire implemented as a preventive measure by the federal government of Malaysia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country on 18 March 2020.[2] The order was commonly referred to in local and international media as a "lockdown" or "partial lockdown."[3]

Chronology[edit]

On 16 March 2020, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin made an official speech and officially promulgated the movement control order under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967.[4] The order included the following restrictions:

  1. General prohibition of mass movements and gatherings across the country including religious, sports, social and cultural activities. To enforce this prohibition, all houses of worship and business premises would be closed, except for supermarkets, public markets, grocery stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities. Specifically for Muslims, the adjournment of all religious activities in mosques including Friday prayers would be in line with the decision made on 15 March 2020 by the Special Muzakarah Meeting of the National Council for Islamic Affairs.[5]
  2. Sanctions covering all Malaysians travelling abroad. For those who have just returned from overseas, they would be required to undergo a health check and a 14-day quarantine (or self-quarantine).[5]
  3. Restrictions on the entry of all tourists and foreign visitors into the country.[5]
  4. Closure of all kindergartens, government and private schools including daily schools, boarding schools, international schools, tahfiz centres and another primary, secondary and pre-university institutions.[5]
  5. Closure of all public and private higher education institutions (IPTs) and skills training institutes nationwide.[5]
  6. Closure of all government and private premises except those involved in essential services (water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transportation, irrigation, oil, gas, fuel, lubricants, broadcasting, finance, banking, health, pharmacy, fire, prison, port, airport, safety, defence, cleaning, retail and food supply.[5]

On 18 March, Malaysia began the implementation the movement control order. On 25 March, the prime minister through a live national broadcast announced a first extension of the MCO to last until 14 April.[6][7]

There were, however, considerations of a further lockdown until late April or May as the number of cases in Malaysia is expected to peak in mid-April, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).[8][9] On 8 April, Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the health ministry was having a discussion with the nation's cabinet regarding the possible extension of the MCO, with the decision of the MCO's duration to be announced no later than Friday.[10][11] On 10 April, the prime minister announced a second extension of the MCO by another fortnight until 28 April, noting that his decision was to give space to the healthcare personnels battling the COVID-19 outbreak, apart from preventing the virus from spreading again and to avoid another increase of cases if the MCO is lifted too early.[12] On the night of 23 April, Muhyiddin announced a third extension of the MCO by two weeks till 12 May, with the possibility of further extensions.[13]

The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) initially warned that violators of the MCO's regulation may be subjected to various penalties under the Penal Code.[14] However, on 18 March, the chamber of the Attorney General released a federal gazette specific to the control order, where violations can be fined up to RM1,000 (US$229) and/or jailed not more than six months or both.[15] On 14 April, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob stated that compounds will no longer be issued by the police from the next day as the penalties were ineffective on reducing MCO violations, and offenders will be arrested and remanded instead.[16]

Except for travel to Sarawak, a written police permit with a valid reason was originally planned to be required for interstate travel during the MCO.[17] As a result, large crowds were reported to have gathered at police stations for permits hours before the travel restriction was in effect. Concerned that the crowding will exacerbate the spread of COVID-19, PDRM called off the permit plan a few hours before the MCO, until further notice.[18]

During the MCO, PDRM conducted road blocks operations (dubbed "Ops COVID-19") along key points across the country,[19] to monitor travellers and warn them to stay home and abide by the order.[20][21][22] From 22 March, Malaysia's military forces were mobilised to augment PDRM's MCO operations; as of April, approximately 7,000 military personnel were deployed to assist.[23][24] From 4 May, in line with the Conditional MCO, PDRM is planning to reduce roadblocks nationwide to focus on social distancing enforcements as well as curbing the entry of illegal immigrants and smuggling activities.[25]

On 30 March, the national government designated that all businesses such as supermarkets and restaurants, including food delivery services can only be operated from 8AM till 8PM starting from 1 April.[26] Sarawak, however, insisted on its operation time of 7AM till 7PM, citing that Sarawak's daylight is earlier than in West Malaysia.[27] Further measures were instilled starting from 1 April; a person must not be accompanied with other people during travel, a 10 km travel radius for all travellers and the banning of all types of gatherings except for funerals, however the attendees must be kept to a minimum.[28] People who travel for medical purposes are exempted from companion rule and the travel radius.[29]

All levels of supply chains regarding agricultural and fishing industries are allowed to be in operation throughout the order.[30] On 10 April, the Malaysian government gave permissions to certain businesses to operate during the order to ensure the sustainability of the country's economy, to prevent the loss of jobs among Malaysians and to ensure continuous access to basic needs and critical products.[31]

The Malaysian Government had eased lockdown restrictions on 4 May under a "conditional MCO," which allowed certain business sectors to resume operations. On 10 May Prime Minister Muhyiddin announced in a live broadcast, that the CMCO will be extended until 9 June, the fourth extension since 18 March. Muhyiddin Yassin clarified that all rules and standard operating procedures (SOPs) introduced during the conditional MCO would remain in force until 9 June and that any changes to the SOPs or the list of sectors allowed to operate will be announced. There will be a ban on interstate movement during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the Kaamatan Feast and Hari Gawai holiday periods.[32][33]

Enhanced Movement Control Order[edit]

Joint inspection by the police and army during the enhanced movement control order on 15 April 2020

From 27 March, specific locations were subjected to a stricter order, dubbed the "Enhanced Movement Control Order" (EMCO or Enhanced MCO), for 14 days if a large cluster was detected within the area for the government to conduct a thorough COVID-19 test towards all residents, and to curb the spread of the virus out of the areas. The orders included:[34]

  • All residents and visitors within the area are forbidden from exiting their homes during the order;
  • non-residents and visitors outside the area cannot enter into the area subjected to the order;
  • All businesses are shut down;
  • adequate food supplies will be given by the authorities during the 14 day-order to all residents;
  • a medical base will be established within the area;
  • All roads into the area are blocked.

On 27 March, two areas in Simpang Renggam, Johor were subjected to the order till 9 April as those areas alone contributed to a high 61 positive cases.[34] On 30 March, this order is applied to a few hamlets in Sungai Lui, Hulu Langat District, Selangor due to a detection of a cluster involving a madrasa with 71 positive cases.[35] City One, a residential complex in Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Kuala Lumpur which its residents are mainly foreign workers was subjected to the extended order on 31 March as 17 cases involving residents of the tower were detected.[36] Selangor Mansion and Malayan Mansion, apartment buildings located at Jalan Masjid India, Kuala Lumpur, were subjected to EMCOs on 7 April, as 15 positive cases were detected within the two buildings,[37] while Jalan Masjid India and its surrounding areas were subjected to EMCOs on 14 April.[38] Similarly, an EMCO order was placed for over 15,000 residents living around the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market in Selayang on 20 April until 3 May, following the detection of 20 cases and one fatality from the area.[39]

Masjid India of Kuala Lumpur completely sealed off during EMCO

On 6 April, Malaysia's Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, suggested that the government is planning for a new standard operating procedure regarding the EMCO and the government tried to not impose an excessively wide radius towards areas subjected to the EMCO.[40]

On 9 November, the Government extended the Enhanced Movement Control Order over several areas in Sabah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Sarawak in response to a spike in cases nationwide.[41]

Semi Enhanced Movement Control Order[edit]

From 14 May 2020, Pudu area in Kuala Lumpur comes under semi enhanced movement control order (SEMCO). Soldiers and polices put up barbed wire fences at road exits. It is understood that besides Jalan Pudu, the affected roads are Jalan Kancil, Jalan Pasar, Jalan Landak, Lorong Brunei 2 and Lorong Brunei 3. Several busy commercial districts in the Klang Valley have been put under various lockdowns, including the enhanced movement control order (EMCO).

Relaxation of restrictions[edit]

As the number of daily cases and active cases of COVID-19 reduced in Malaysia by mid-April, the government had relaxed several measures of the MCO. Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong confirmed that all public transportation services would resume on 4 May but would abide by social distancing measures.[42] On 30 April, the Government announced that two family members will be allowed to buy food and other daily essentials as part of the relaxation of MCO restrictions.[43]

On 21 June, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that couples whose marriage registration had been delayed as a result of the Movement Control Order could not complete the process at all permitted NGOs in the country including clan organisations, temples, churches, and religious bodies.[44]

Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO)[edit]

Muhyiddin Yassin in his Labour Day speech on 1 May announced a plan named the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO or Conditional MCO), a relaxation of regulations regarding the MCO, with its main goal was to reopen the national economy in a controlled manner.[45] The CMCO was scheduled to start from 4 May.[45] The regulations of the CMCO as stated in his speech included:[46]

  • most economic sectors and activities are allowed to operate while observing the business standard operating procedures such as social distancing and recording the names and telephone numbers of customers and the dates of their visit;
QR Code to be scanned before entering Tung Shin Hospital Kuala Lumpur (Code leads to this online form)
  • sports activities involving large gatherings, body contact and other risks of infection are not allowed, including all indoor and stadium sports events. Outdoor sports activities which do not involve body contact, in small groups without an audience and involving not more than 10 persons are allowed on the condition that social distancing is practised;
  • social, community and cultural events which involve large gatherings as well as all types of official events and assemblies are not permitted. Religious activities and all congregational or assembly activities in houses of worship are not allowed;
  • interstate travel, including the balik kampung tradition for the oncoming Eid al-Fitr is not allowed except for work purposes and to return home after being stranded in the hometowns or elsewhere.

However, the CMCO received mixed reactions among state governments around Malaysia.[47] The states of Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak decided to not implement the CMCO by 4 May, either to give way to discussions regarding the implications of reopening economic sections towards the future trend of Malaysia's pandemic or to secure the positive development of the pandemic.[48] The governments of Selangor and Perak restricted some business sectors operating during the CMCO while Negeri Sembilan only allowed economic sectors to reopen.[47][48] The government of Penang on the other hand had implemented a three-phase gradual reopening till 13 May.[47]

The CMCO received backlash by politicians, health experts and the general public over concerns of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia due to the seemingly reckless and unnecessary relaxation of the MCO; the federal government responded by stating that the CMCO is stricter than relaxation measures taken in other countries.[49][50] By 3 May, over 420,000 members of the public had signed a petition of objection to the conditional MCO and urging the government to stay with the MCO.[51]

On 7 November, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Malaysian Government would be reinstating the CMCO throughout most of Peninsular Malaysia except Kelantan, Perlis, and Pahang between 9 November and 6 December 2020. Besides, CMCO measures for Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya, which were scheduled to end on 9 November, were extended until 6 December. Under these new CMCO measures, all educational institutions, social and cultural activities will be required to cease but economic activities can continue under set standard operating procedures.[52]

On 13 November, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Malaysian Government would allow three people from the same household per car, easing an earlier CMCO restriction limiting cars to just two people following a public backlash.[53]

On 20 November, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob approved a domestic travel bubble programme within green zones. He also announced the elimination of CMCO restrictions within in the states of Johor, Kedah, Malacca, and Terengganu with the exception of certain districts.[54]

On 5 December, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that the Conditional Movement Control Order would end for most states except Sabah, Kuala Lumpur, most of Selangor, and parts of Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan and Perak; where the CMCO would be extended until 20 December.[55]

On 7 December, the National Security Council lifted the cap on the number of diners allowed to share tables at restaurants in areas under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) including Kuala Lumpur.[56]

On 18 December, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob extended the CMCO in Kuala Lumpur and much of Selangor with the exception of Sabak Bernam, Hulu Selangor, and Kuala Selangor from 21 December to 31 December 2020.[57] In addition, the CMCO was extended in Sabah and several districts in Negri Sembilan, Johor, Penang, and Perak until 31 December. Meanwhile, the CMCO in certain districts of Kedah and Kelantan will revert to Recovery Movement Control Order on 20 December.[58]

On 28 December, the National Security Council extended the CMCO in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor from 1 January until 14 January in response to a surge in cases and clusters in those areas.[59]

Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO)[edit]

On 7 June, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the Conditional Movement Control Order would end on 9 June, with the country entering into the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase between 10 June and 31 August.[60] The Prime Minister also announced that interstate travel would be allowed from 10 June under the RMCO except in areas remaining under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).[61]

Praying spots for prayer attendees are marked with masking tapes and placed a metre away from each other at the Kampung Pandan Dalam Nurul Hidayah Mosque, Selangor.

In most areas, certain religious activities at mosques are allowed again, but with many restrictions. In Selangor, for example, Muslims are only allowed to go to certain mosques for Friday prayers after receiving an invitation from the mosque authorities, or after having their application accepted by the religious authorities. The number of attendees is also restricted to 40, and then later to 150 people only,[62] as they are instructed to bring their own prayer mats and only sit within their own prepared spaces, distanced a metre away from each other. In Kuala Lumpur, several mosques operated on a 'first-come, first-served' policy.[63]

On 26 June, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that sectors under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture such as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, travel and trade fairs, as well as a spa, wellness and reflexology centres would be allowed to open from 1 July. However, tourism businesses are required to abide by social distancing measures, limit crowds to 200-250 people, check customers' temperatures, wear face masks, and provide hand sanitizer. While reflexology centres provided by the blind are allowed to reopen, only Malaysians can work in spas, wellness, and reflexology centres. Ismail Sabri also announced that tuition centres, special education schools and private schools would be allowed to operate soon.[64]

On 29 June, it was reported that both government and private pre-schools, kindergartens, nurseries and daycare centres would resume operations from 1 July. Under the RMCO, a range of businesses and activities have been allowed to resume operations including spas, wellness and foot massage centres, cinemas, meetings, seminars, weddings, birthdays, and religious gatherings. Besides, swimming in public, hotel, condominium, gated community and private pools have also been allowed.[65]

On 3 July, Religious Affairs Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri clarified that foreigners would not be allowed to attend congregational prayers at mosques and surau until the Department had studied reports from the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department regarding the situation. Zulkifli expressed hope that the situation would be resolved within a month or two.[66]

On 10 July, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that family entertainment centres including game arcades, karaoke centres, indoor funfairs, edutainment centres for children, and kids' gymnasiums could resume operations from 15 July.[67]

On 28 August, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the extension of the RMCO by a further 4 months until 31 December 2020.[68][69][70]

On 1 January 2021, Senior Minister Dato Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the RMCO has been extended to 31 March 2021 as cases are still high.[71]

Travel[edit]

On 5 December, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Government would allow unrestricted interstate travel across states and districts from 7 December with the exception of areas under an Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO), which will still require a police permit.[55]

Re-imposition of MCO restrictions, 2021[edit]

On 11 January 2021, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that Movement Control Order restrictions would be re-introduced to the states of Malacca, Johor, Penang, Selangor, Sabah and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Labuan between 13 until 26 January 2021. These restrictions include:

  • Banning travel between states and districts;
  • Limiting travel 10km away from homes;
  • Stay at home orders;
  • Only allowing two people per household to travel in cars and buy groceries;
  • Banning social gatherings including weddings, seminars, and sports;
  • Eateries and hawker stalls can only provide takeaway services and deliveries;
  • Only five essential economic sectors allowed to operate: manufacturing, construction, services (including supermarkets, banks and health services), trade and distribution and plantations;
  • Outdoor recreational activities limited to people from the same household;
  • Non-essential workers to work from home; and
  • Five person limit at mosques and other places of worship.[72]

On 15 January, Prime Minister Muhyiddin announced that MCO restrictions would be reimposed on Kelantan and Sibu, Sarawak between 16 and 29 January in response to a surge of cases.[73] On 21 January, several betting outlets in peninsular Malaysia and Sabah announced they were closing until 4 February to comply with the Government's new Movement Control Order.[74]

On 21 January, Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Government would be allowing restaurants, food stalls and food deliveries in states under the MCO to operate until 10pm starting 22 January, easing a week-long rule of only allowing operations to run until 8pm.[75] On 21 January, the Malaysian Government extended the country's MCO restrictions in Selangor, Penang, Johor, Malacca, Sabah and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan until 4 February due to a continuation of rising cases and deaths.[76]

Measures by state and territories[edit]

Johor[edit]

On 2 November, the Ministry of Health's Training Institute in Johor Bahru was placed under an Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) after 46 trainees tested positive for COVID-19. This EMCO will affect 1,559 people including students, teachers, and their families.[77]

Kedah[edit]

On 3 August, four sub-district in Kubang Pasu were placed under EMCO due to increased new cases caused by Nasi Kandar restaurant in Napoh town.[78]

On 10 September, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob placed an enhanced movement control order (MCO) on the district of Kota Setar from midnight 11 September to 23 September following an increase in COVID-19 cases. Residents will not be allowed to leave the area and outsiders will not be allowed to enter.[79]

Kuala Lumpur[edit]

On 7 June, the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan announced that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall will allow open markets, morning markets, night markets and bazaars to reopen in stages following the implementation of the Recovery Movement Control Order on 15 June.[80]

Labuan[edit]

On 15 October, Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob placed the federal territory of Labuan under a conditional movement control order, which would run from 17 October to 30 October. Under this lockdown, all economic activities will be allowed to operate but religious, cultural, and social sectors including schools and kindergartens will remain close.[81][82] The conditional movement control order in Labuan was subsequently extended from 31 October until 13 November.[83]

Negeri Sembilan[edit]

On 30 September, Negeri Sembilan's Human Resources, Plantation and Non-Islamic Affairs committee chairman J. Arul Kumar announced that the annual ten-day Deepavali carnival, which had been scheduled to be held between 4 and 13 November, had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic following advice from the National Security Council.[84]

Pahang[edit]

From 21 to 31 March, the state of Pahang has enacted that all business stores in Kuantan, Pekan, Bentong, Jerantut and Temerloh (Cameron Highlands had already begun to implement the measure on 16 March) must only operate during the day up to 12 hours, and need to close after 7 PM to 7 AM. According to the measurement, all shops that were originally allowed to operate during the period of the control order, including drive-thru restaurants, fast food restaurants, and petrol stations, are no longer allowed to operate between 7 PM and 7 AM.[85] From 1 April, PDRM's state division tightened state borders and set up roadblocks on the state's major highways.[86]

Perak[edit]

Wholesale market operating hours in Perak during the MCO were designated from 4 AM to 10 AM, however, from 6 April, wet food-related businesses such as poultry and seafood were designated from 4 AM to 10 AM, while businesses for vegetables and fruits were designated from 11 AM to 4 PM. The closure from 10AM till 11PM was dedicated for cleaning processes.[87]

Sabah[edit]

On 10 September Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that an enhanced MCO would be placed around Tawau prison from 11 September till 23 September, affecting prisoners, inmates and their families. During this period, visitations will not be allowed.[79]

On 28 September Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that an enhanced MCO would be enforced in Lahad Datu, Tawau, Kunak, and Semporna between 29 September and October 12. During that period, residents will not be allowed to leave the four districts, non-residents and visitors would be barred from entering, and all business activities except those providing essential goods and services would have to cease.[88]

On 5 October, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the state capital Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, and Putatan would be placed under a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) commencing 7 October. Under the conditional MCO, travel into these districts will be limited, express and transit buses will not be allowed to operate, and only essential services such as food and health services will be allowed to operate.[89] The following day, Senior Minister Ismail announced that the federal government would ban most interstate travel to and from Sabah with the exceptions of emergencies, deaths, and essential services subject to approval from the Ministry of Health. Travel would be limited to Sabah natives, essential workers, civil servants working in Sabah, and permanent residents residing in Sabah.[90]

On 2 November, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the EMCOs at the Kepayan Prison and Taman Mat Salleh Prison Quarters in Kota Kinabalu would be extended by two weeks until 16 November.[77]

Sarawak[edit]

On 27 July, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Malaysian government will limit inter-zone (Zone 1: Kuching, Samarahan and Serian division. Zone 2: Sri Aman, Betong, Sibu, Sarikei, Mukah, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang division) movement in Sarawak between 1 and 14 August at the request of the Sarawak Government to curb the spread of COVID-19 within that state, particularly around the state capital Kuching.[91]

On 6 December, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) allowed spas, wellness and reflexology centres in the state to resume operations effective from 7 December.[92]

Selangor[edit]

On 10 October, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that weddings would be limited to 250 people in the Klang District. An earlier announcement had limited weddings to 500 people.[93]

On 14 October, the Klang Valley was placed under a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) with inter-district movement prohibited until 27 October. 96 roadblocks were set up to enforce this movement restriction with only workers with valid passes and authorisation letters being able to travel between districts. While offices, restaurants, and shopping malls remain open, they are subject to stricter health and social distancing rules. The CMCO also affects the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, which lie within the boundaries of Selangor.[94][95]

On 20 October, employees in the private and public sectors, at the management and supervisory levels, in areas under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) have been instructed to work from home starting Thursday, 22 October.[96]

Terengganu[edit]

The Royal Malaysia Police in Terengganu planned to impose traffic control based on vehicle registration numbers, where vehicles with odd or even registration numbers are only allowed to travel during odd- or even-numbered days, respectively, starting 1 April. The plan was later postponed the day before the rollout to allow a detailed study of the proposed control.[97]

Effects[edit]

Arrests and crime[edit]

Despite the past condemnation, the Malaysian authorities have arrested hundreds of people for violating the Movement Control Order since mid-April. Violators are fined, jailed or sent to perform community service as part of their punishment. The sentence jail term ranges from 2 days to several months. Violators unable to pay their fines will have to serve prison sentences.[98]

According to a Human Rights Watch report, 15,000 people had been arrested by 18 March for breaching the movement control order. On 2 April 2020, Minister of Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob reported that 4,189 individuals had been arrested over the past two weeks for flouting the movement control order. Of these, 1,449 individuals have been charged in court.[99] On 3 May, Nurul Hidayah Ahmad Zahid, the daughter of President of UMNO, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi her husband, Saiful Nizam Mohd Yusoff were caught for flouting the MCO.[100]

After the director-general of the Malaysian Prison Department raised concerns about prison overcrowding, the Malaysian Government shifted to fine violators. On 15 April, the Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Police would be criminally prosecuting violators and detained them in thirteen police academies that had been converted into makeshift detention centres.[101] Human rights organisations condemned the move as it further promotes the spread of coronavirus due to overcrowding in prisons. In late April, Human Rights Watch's Asia Director Phil Robertson called on the Malaysian government to stop jailing people who had flouted the movement control order, but recommended the use of the newly built facilities to keep lockdown violators.[101]

The MCO has led to a decrease in the national crime rate by around 70%.[102] Data from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development suggested a slight increase of domestic violence nationwide during the MCO, however in control.[103]

On 20 June, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that 48 individuals had been arrested by the Royal Malaysian Police's Compliance Operations Task Force for violating the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO). Ten of these were arrested for engaging in reflexology and massaging activities while 38 were charged with violating social distancing rules. 3,774 compliance teams are consisting of 16,675 personnel.[104]

On 4 July, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that 77 people had been arrested as of 3 July for violating the RMCO including initiating contact sports activities (15), pub and night club activities (12) and violating standard operating procedures (SOPs). 495 constructions sites were reported to have violated standard operating procedures while 2,738 have complied with SOPs.[105]

Economy[edit]

With the country known as the world's top rubber glove maker, concerns have risen especially from the European Union (EU) over the impacts of the movement control to Malaysia's glove exports especially with the increasing glove shortages among European healthcare sectors.[106] This subsequently led the EU to sent a letter on 25 March to the Malaysian counterpart for the relaxation of the movement control order on the glove sectors. Through a positive replied made by the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry to allowing continuous operations, a letter was subsequently distributed by the Malaysia Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association on 27 March to glove manufacturers in the country to allowing their factories to remain open from 1 April.[106] The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also had removed a ban on glove exports to the United States by a Malaysian glove company previously accused of using forced labour as part of the American government efforts to boost supplies of their healthcare sectors due to the increasing shortages of medical equipment caused by the pandemic.[107]

Education[edit]

The Prime Minister had instructed the Ministry of Education to implement home-based learning initiatives throughout the duration of MCO as schools nationwide were closed during the period.[108] Assessments and examinations for various national higher education programmes were cancelled as some institutes were converted into temporary surveillance and quarantine centres, and students' performance evaluations were replaced by continuous assessment scores.[109] Also, the national examination, SPM was delayed to January 2021 from the originally scheduled November 2020.

On 10 June, Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin confirmed that schools throughout Malaysia would begin reopening in stages from 24 June, with priority being given to students taking secondary and equivalent international leaving exams.[110][111] As part of social distancing measures, students will have their temperatures tested, will have to sit at least one-metre apart, and schools will serve pre-packaged food.[111]

On 23 June, the Ministry of Education announced changes to school term holidays in order to help schools better plan lessons that had been disrupted by the pandemic and Movement Control Order. The mid-term holidays would be reduced from nine days to five days. In addition, the end of the year holidays in schools in Group A states (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu) would be reduced from 42 days to 14 days. The end of the year holidays in Group B states (Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya) would be reduced from 41 days to 13 days. The Education Ministry confirmed that the school year for 2020 will now total 168 days.[112] In response, former Education Minister Maszlee Malik criticised the Ministry for not consulting with teachers and teachers' unions including the National Union of the Teaching Profession and West Malaysia Malay Teachers Union prior to amending the school term.[113]

Essential supplies[edit]

The usually crowded Lim Chong Eu Expressway and its surroundings (Queensbay Mall) in Penang deserted throughout the movement control order as seen on 22 March 2020.

Before Malaysia announced the movement control order, supermarkets across the country began to see a surge in panic buying, and the supply of surgical masks everywhere was out, causing prices to skyrocket. In response, the Prime Minister of Malaysia assured people in a televised speech on 16 March that the supply of food, daily essentials and healthcare (including surgical masks), were sufficient nationwide, adding that the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs would be monitoring the food supply and the daily demand of markets during the control order.[4]

Travel and transportation[edit]

Square in front of the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping mall on 20 March 2020 during the movement control order.

Scores of Malaysians working in Singapore and foreigners rushed back to the immigration checkpoints in the hope to return to Singapore before the order became effective. Singapore-based public transport operators had arranged temporary accommodation at several hotels to accommodate the affected Malaysian Bus Captains.[114][115] Scheduled bus services travelling between Singapore and Johor Bahru were suspended as well.[116] The announcement of the movement control order reportedly caused some anxiety among Singaporean residents over their food supplies, of which a significant portion came from Malaysia. Panic buying briefly returning in Singapore as Singaporeans rushed to supermarkets to stock basic necessities,[117] and Singapore's ministers and Prime Minister had to assure them that there would be enough supplies for the country, and that the flow of goods between the two countries would continue.[118][119][120]

Moments after the order was announced in Malaysia, With the announcement of the movement control, various diplomatic missions such as the United States and France have ceased issuing visas, while India prohibited Malaysian citizens from travelling to its country.[121] Thai residents headed out of Malaysia in large numbers while the large community of Indonesians in Malaysia also prepared for the situation as reported by their embassy.[122][123][124] Other diplomatic missions were closely monitoring the situation of the restrictive movement order and awaited further instructions both from their government and the Malaysian government.[125]

As the number of passengers decreased significantly during the movement control order and to reduce the risk of infection of passengers and employees, Malaysia's main bus operator, Rapid Bus readjusted the frequency of all its buses starting from 20 March where it also encouraged the people to plan their trips. Rapid Ferry also made adjustments by reducing to two ferries each day to operate starting from 20 March. Each shift was changed from the original 20 minutes to 30 minutes. After 10 PM, the frequency of the ferry service will be changed to 1 hour. As for the last ferry ride time, it will depend on the arrival time of the last bus in Penang Sentral.[126]

On 4 April 2020, all Express Rail Link rail services were to be suspended until the end of the control period due to significant reductions in passenger flow.[127]

On 16 April 2020, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob clarified that any form of mass movements and interstate travel would be prohibited during Ramadan as long as the Movement Control Order remains in force until 28 April. Many Muslim Malaysians visit their families and hometowns during the Ramadan period.[128]

Social gatherings[edit]

On 5 November 2020, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has announced that Malaysians living in areas under both Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) and Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) restrictions would not be allowed to cross borders during the upcoming Deepavali holiday on 14 November. It is customary for people to travel home and visit families during the Deepavali holiday.[129]

On 18 December 2020, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Christmas gatherings on 25 December will be limited to 20 people at landed properties and 10 people at apartments and condominiums within areas under recovery and conditional movement control orders. Within areas under enhanced MCO, only household Christmas gatherings will be allowed. In addition, church masses will be allowed between 5pm and 9:30pm on 24 December for a maximum of two sessions.[130]

National Security Council's Power[edit]

Dr Yusramizza Md Isa, Senior Law Lecturer at Universiti Utara Malaysia, noted that the government's actions in issuing the MCO are under the auspices of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988. Under Section 5 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, the Health Ministry is the main authority in charge.[131]

However, on 6 April 2020, Minister of Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob reported that only the National Security Council (NSC) can issue directives during the MCO.[132]

Dr Yusramizza further noted that unless "disaster emergency" or "a security area" is declared by the Prime Minister based on Section 18 of the National Security Council Act 2016 and Article 25 of the Malaysia National Security Council Directive 20, the military is not empowered to arrest, seize and search.[131]

Kuala Lumpur lawyers Haeme Hashim and CK Lew from Messrs. Haeme Lew suggested that the government ought to declare a "disaster emergency" according to Article 25 of the Malaysia National Security Council Directive 20 and for the entirety of Malaysia to be declared as a "security area" under Section 18 of the National Security Council Act 2016, failing which the NSC and military do not have full power in administering this Movement Control Order. Only the police have full power and the military only works to assist the police in strengthening control over the order.[133]

Civil society organisation Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) has stated that a special task force may be formed to assist health ministry, but not the NSC. A spokesperson for Madpet Charles Hector noted that the Malaysian government may have quietly and wrongly resorted to using the draconian National Security Council Act 2016 in the combat to curb and defeat the coronavirus threat as the NSC, under the NSC Act, seemed to be making decisions and issuing orders on coronavirus-related issues. Hector notes that the Ministry of Health's authority may be ousted by the NSC, and that the NSC may be wrongly taking overpower and control from the Ministry of Health, which is really the responsible Ministry under the Prevention And Control Of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.[134]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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