KUALA LUMPUR: Those found to have contravened Malaysia's movement control order (MCO) are usually given a chance to return home, before being arrested for not heeding the police's advice.
In an interview with CNA, Kuala Lumpur Police Chief Mazlan Lazim said on Thursday (Apr 2) that his officers take a lot of things into consideration before arresting people for violating the MCO.
During working hours, those stopped at roadblocks will be asked to produce letters from their employers stating that they are working for essential services. If people are not carrying any letter, they would need to present their work identification, he said.
For those who are not carrying any documentation and have no valid reason to be out and about, officers at the checkpoints will ask them to go home.
“Normally we will ask them to make a turn back and go home. It is only when they do not take heed of the order, then we arrest them.
“Sometimes, when we ask people to go home, they even use vulgarities on our officers. In such cases, we really do have to arrest them,” he stated.
Mr Mazlan noted that there is a compliance rate of above 95 per cent in his district.
“We must remember that most headquarters of essential services are located here in Kuala Lumpur, so it is difficult to have zero cars on the road,” he said.
During the MCO, all government and private premises have to be closed, except for those providing essential services.
Offenders can be fined not more than RM 1,000 (US$229) or jailed for not more than six months or both.
Malaysians have been subject to the MCO since Mar 18. The first phase took place from Mar 18 to Mar 31 while the second phase which started on Wednesday, will continue until Apr 14.
During the first phase of the MCO, 194 people were arrested in Kuala Lumpur alone.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement on Thursday that 4,189 people have been arrested since the MCO came into force on Mar 18.
Of the 4,189 arrests, 1,449 offenders have been charged in court, said the minister.
There are now more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, the highest in Southeast Asia. The death toll stands at 50.
What are the common reasons given by those caught flouting the MCO?
Mr Mazlan said they include: “I am going to meet a friend, going for a jog or I am just taking a walk".
“Most of them think they will not get caught,” he said.
“To make matters worse, when their reasons are not valid and we ask them to go home immediately, they ignore us. This is when we have no choice but to arrest them,” he said.
READ: Malaysia arrests hundreds for flouting curbs on movement as COVID-19 deaths rise
In line with what has been announced by the government, Mr Mazlan said he and his team have been taking measures to ramp up enforcement.
“During the first phase, we only had 50 roadblocks. Now we have increased it to 56. There are also two more manned by the Bukit Aman Traffic Department at toll plazas,” he said.
Mr Ismail's statement said there are a total of 687 roadblocks nationwide, manned by the police and the military.
So far, 380,342 vehicles have been checked at roadblocks. Additionally, 23,256 spot checks were also conducted by the police at other places, said the minister.