Malaysian police warn of drones, surprise visits to ensure Covid-19 MCO compliance during Hari Raya

A deserted street during a lockdown in Kuala Lumpur on May 11, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police have warned that they will use drones or make surprise visits to households in the run-up to the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festive season.

This is to ensure that the public complies with the movement control order (MCO), which takes effect on Wednesday (May 12).

The MCO - the third since the start of the pandemic - was announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday as the government struggles to contain surging Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations in the country.

The police will use drones to detect the violation of MCO rules, but its use will be subject to the request of district police chiefs in the state, Bernama news agency quoted the police as saying.

"At the same time, the public is advised to report any SOP (standard operating procedure) violation during Aidilfitri festivities that happened in their residential areas to the police," Senior Assistant Commissioner M.V. Sri Kumar of the Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Department (Operations) told Bernama.

He also said that for high-rise residential areas, police will check the visitors' logs on the premises.

In the Petaling Jaya district of Selangor, police said they will deploy eight teams to make surprise visits to households to enforce rules on visitors and open houses.

Petaling Jaya OCPD Assistant Commander Mohamad Fakhrudin Abdul Hamid said police will tighten checks in the run-up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri and cautioned that those planning to organise such events will face a RM25,000 (S$8,061) compound. Those caught visiting would face RM5,000 compounds, he said.

"We want to ensure that no one is organising open houses or entertaining visitors, which is prohibited," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"During Hari Raya, they will be patrolling neighbourhoods," he said.

Under the current MCO, visits to cemeteries during Hari Raya Aidilfitri are banned. Only 50 people are allowed in mosques and surau, as small community mosques are called in Malaysia, with capacity exceeding 1,000; while 20 people are allowed in mosques that can accommodate fewer than 1,000 people.

Meanwhile, Bukit Aman Traffic and Enforcement Department deputy director Mohd Nadzri Husain said police have launched a week-long Ops Rentas operation to deter people from crossing borders for Aidilfitri.

He said the exercise, which started on Monday, is also to ensure that those who have approval to travel interstate will adhere to all traffic rules.

During Ops Rentas, he said roadblocks will be set up along the North-South Expressway and the East Coast Expressway.

Under Ops Rentas, the highway network has been divided into five zones and 28 sectors. Roadblocks will be set up at scheduled times.

"The highway network will be divided into the northern, central A and B, southern and eastern zones.

"Roadblocks will not remain static in one location but will keep on changing after a few hours," he told reporters in Seremban when launching the operation, which will be enforced until May 16.

Senior Assistant Commander Mohd Nadzri added that state police contingents have also set up 349 roadblocks in their areas.

He advised people not to violate the interstate travel ban as offenders will not only be ordered to turn back but also fined for violating the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.

"We hope all Malaysians will give us their cooperation because we do not want the Covid-19 situation to worsen," he said.

Datuk Mohd Nadzri said apart from accident hot spots, roadblocks along the highway will be set up at spots where people can make interstate crossings.

On complaints that such roadblocks will cause traffic congestion, he said the police have no other options.

"We need time to check the documents as there were cases where people had tried to cheat their way through using photocopies of letters and other fake documents, " he said.

Police, he said, will also use special equipment such as In Car Radar during the operation to detect those who flout traffic rules. The In Car Radar installed in patrol vehicles allows police to detect vehicles' speed through radar and pull up their outstanding summonses on the spot.

Malaysia recorded 3,973 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, with the majority of the cases or 1,328 of them coming from Selangor, followed by Sarawak (512) and Kuala Lumpur (483). The country reported 22 new deaths from the virus, bringing the total death toll to 1,722.

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