Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today said the armed forces will be accorded the power to arrest those who breach health SOPs to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, one of several immediate actions to be taken under the current emergency ordinance.
He said the power to arrest would be given under the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021.
He also announced that stricter laws against SOP offenders would be introduced, as well as the takeover of private facilities for Covid-19 testing.
Muhyiddin however assured that the government would compensate those whose facilities have been taken over under the emergency laws.
He said stricter laws to ensure greater adherence to Covid-19 SOPs will involve heavier punishments for offenders including business owners.
He said Putrajaya is currently working on amending clauses in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, the main act governing the management of the Covid-19 health crisis.
Muhyiddin said the stricter laws include the immediate closure of businesses violating SOPs, as well as legal action against those involved in the management of foreign workers, who are among the biggest contributors to the recent spike in Covid-19 infections.
He said under the amendments, offenders will face imprisonment.
Muhyiddin said disciplinary action could also be taken against civil servants including those in managerial positions who breach SOPs.
The prime minister meanwhile underscored the government’s dilemma in the battle against Covid-19, saying it must find a balance between allowing a collapse of the economic sector through a total lockdown, and the spread of Covid-19 through the free movement of people.
“The method at the moment is to allow essential economic sectors to remain open under strict SOPs,” he said in a televised address.
He said data shows that some 59% of Covid-19 infections happen at the workplace.
“I wish to remind everyone that the government will not hestitate to take firm action against anyone who violates the SOPs.
“The government has listened to your views by not shutting down the economy during the movement control order period.
“So please reciprocate this gesture by complying strictly with the SOPs so we can ensure that business and trade will continue to operate while at the same time helping to break the chain of Covid-19 transmissions at the workplace and in the community.”
Election after emergency
Muhyiddin meanwhile called for an end to accusations surrounding the emergency proclamation, which was invoked by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last month under his constitutional powers.
He maintained that the state of emergency “has no other objective but to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and save the people’s lives”.
“As the head of the government, I respect our country’s constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy system.”
Muhyiddin also repeated his assurance that he would dissolve Parliament as soon as the health crisis has been overcome.