BUKIT MERTAJAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia authorities in Penang state on Sunday (March 29) brought to court 69 people who were arrested for violating the federal government's movement control order (MCO).
The alleged violators who were caught in Central Seberang Prai district were brought to the magistrate's court to be remanded.
The detainees, clad in orange lock-up garb, arrived in three police trucks while the three women arrested arrived in a van at about 9.50am.
Violators of the MCO could be fined RM1,000 (S$330) or face a jail term of up to six months, based on the Infectious Diseases Act.
But the authorities could slap them with other laws which carry stiffer punishments.
A man who pleaded guilty last week for obstructing a police officer from discharging his duty in enforcing the MCO was fined RM5,000 in default of 10 months' jail for the offence.
Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people by Saturday for flouting the 28-day MCO that began on March 18, shutting down schools and businesses, and allowing people to leave their homes only to buy essential goods and services such as food and medical care.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said 73 people have been charged and have pleaded guilty. The government arrested 649 people on Saturday alone, compared to 320 on Friday, and 162 on Thursday.
The MCO, he said, has seen a 97 per cent compliance. Still, there have been videos shared of people jogging on public streets, children playing together on neighbourhood roads and people praying together in mosques.
Meanwhile, the authorities say they will conduct an investigation into a market in Selayang, at the edge of Kuala Lumpur, after a tweet showed dozens of people swarming the place to buy goods.
The Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) said it will send a team of enforcement and licensing officers to check on the crowd situation at Pasar Harian Selayang Jaya in Gombak district on Monday.
The tweet posted on Saturday morning showed a large crowd at the market, where customers were shopping without practising social distancing, and there were no personnel controlling the situation.
"Pasar Harian Selayang Jaya is privately owned and it is the owner's responsibility to ensure social distancing measures are in place, " said MPS corporate communications director Mohamad Zin Masoad.
Mr Mohamad said regular checks by MPS teams showed that there were still supermarkets and grocery stores around Selayang where large crowds were seen, with nobody observing the 1m distance between shoppers as recommended by the Health Ministry.
"Our officers have verbally warned the owners of such premises to observe the social distancing measures more seriously, or the council will issue warning notices to them.
"We also reminded shoppers to leave immediately after making their purchases, " he said.