Coronavirus: Malaysia to check car licence plates to nab unauthorised inter-state travellers

Teams consisting of police and armed forces personnel will check registration numbers of vehicles. PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Enforcement teams of Selangor police will check vehicles parked outside homes in housing areas and villages during Hari Raya Aidilfitri to track down those who travel between states without authorisation.

Selangor police chief Noor Azam Jamaludin said teams consisting of police and armed forces personnel will check registration numbers of vehicles, especially if there are many vehicles parked outside a home or residential area.

"We will cross-check the registration numbers with our list and see whether the vehicles and its owners are permitted for inter-state travel," he said when contacted on Tuesday (May 19).

"If we discover that there are those who flouted the ban on interstate travel, we will detain the vehicle owner, which is usually the head of family."

Datuk Noor Azam was commenting on Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador's announcement that the police and the military will "visit" houses during the Hari Raya celebrations.

"This will be one of the measures taken by the authorities to track down those suspected of making unauthorised interstate balik kampung trips to celebrate with their families.

"We are taking the ban on inter-state travel, especially for the purpose of celebrating Hari Raya, seriously," Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid had said.

The authorities have turned back hundreds of people at roadblocks who were trying to "balik kampung" - return to home towns - in the last few days.

The Malaysian government, while relaxing movement curbs to allow most people to go back to work and for malls to reopen, have banned travel between the country's 13 states in order to reduce possible coronavirus infections.

Only those with written permission from the authorities are allowed inter-state travel, and these are mostly for work purposes.

The government is especially worried about those from big cities travelling to rural areas during the Hari Raya Muslim festival starting on May 24, and infecting elderly parents and relatives in villages.

Mr Noor Azam said police will take stern action against the culprits, as the time for warnings was over.

"Action will be taken under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and Police Act 1967.

"No more warning or advice, we will detain those who flout the conditional movement control order (MCO) by travelling interstate without permission," he said.

Mr Noor Azam said Selangor police will conduct roadblocks at strategic locations to detect those attempting to sneak pass authorities to balik kampung.

"Those who don't have the necessary approval for inter-state travel will be told to turn back," he added.

He reminded Muslims in Selangor to limit their gatherings on the first day of Hari Raya to not more than 20 people.

"It is best to only celebrate with our immediate family members or have small-scale celebrations.

"Honour the sacrifices of the frontliners who braved the sun and storm in the fight against the virus by complying with the regulations of the conditional MCO, especially the ban on balik kampung inter-state travel for Hari Raya," he said.

Malaysia on Tuesday reported 37 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the national cumulative total to 6,978, with the death toll remaining at 114.

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