PUTRAJAYA - Fifty-eight people who have been sentenced to prison terms for violating Malaysia's stay-at-home order have been placed at temporary detention centres to serve their time, said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Saturday (April 25).
The Home Ministry has set up 11 of these so-called special prisons for offenders of the movement control order (MCO) after they were sentenced by the courts.
The government has imposed fines of up to RM1,000 (S$327) and short jail sentences to people caught at police and army roadblocks across the country, to deter Malaysians from leaving their homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Others were caught by the authorities for breaking the MCO by gathering in groups. Some of those detained were migrant workers.
These detention centres were converted premises of training academies under the Prisons Department, and started operations on Thursday.
"To date, the special prisons have begun operations and 58 people who have been sentenced by the courts for violating the MCO have been sent to the temporary prisons," Datuk Seri Ismail was quoted by Malaysiakini news site as saying. He was speaking to the media at his daily news conferences on security issues for the virus outbreak.
Some of the MCO violators had earlier been placed in regular prisons but the Prisons Department said it was worried that prison overcrowding could cause new Covid-19 clusters.
Under Section 7(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020, a person violating the MCO can be fined up to RM1,000 or imprisoned up to six months or both.
Asked last week about the treatment of those housed in these temporary detention centres, Mr Ismail said: "The same rules and laws of a normal prison will apply. There isn't going to be better food or things like that.
"We will follow the normal prison standard operating procedure."
He said last week that 14,750 people have been arrested for breaking the movement curbs, and some 1,500 charged in court.
Malaysia on Saturday is into its 39th day of the MCO.
Its Health Ministry on Saturday reported 51 new cases to bring the cumulative total to 5,742, with two more deaths to total fatality of 98.
Another 99 patients who have recovered from Coiv-19 were discharged to bring the total who left hospitals to 3,762. There are 1,882 active cases of patients being treated in hospitals.