The movement control order (MCO) SOPs issued by the National Security Council (NSC) are not static but dynamic, and the decision to impose a lockdown or not is made according to the current Covid-19 pandemic situation, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said last night.
Muhyiddin said he was aware of the grievances of the people upon seeing changes in the SOPs, but that these were due to changes in the situation of Covid-19 itself.
“They are not static (in regard to the MCO SOP). They are dynamic. They follow the situation that requires us to make adjustments to deal with different situations. For example, (previously) restaurants were allowed to have dine-in customers. Then they were disallowed (from doing so).
“I’m sorry if there are those who feel confused. The NSC determines the SOPs. They are not decided by any one person. They are decided via discussion. The NSC did not decide on the SOPs arbitrarily,” he said in a special discussion on the challenges of Covid-19 with the prime minister last night.
He also stressed that the implementation of SOPs was decided in a meeting attended by the attorney-general with Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob, to study the SOPs, which would be gazetted before being enforced and announced, so that all parties would be made aware.
“If you don’t understand, you can ask. We have asked the ministers to give an explanation as well as the officials to provide an explanation. Community leaders handling empowerment programmes have also been provided with the information so that they can help explain the situation and circumstances,” he said.
Muhyiddin also said the state governments do not have the power to request changes to the SOPs as the power rests with the federal government, under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) under the health ministry; and the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) under the human resources ministry.
On non-compliance with SOPs, Muhyiddin said every action taken must be based on the law, and that if what had happened was the opposite, a person subject to SOP action could challenge it.
“If someone commits an offence, we (the government) want to take action for the individual to be punished. Like the current cases. It could be a celebrity, could be anyone. I do not want to mention the name, the action must be based on the law.
“The power to arrest or impose a compound of RM10,000? That is why the SOPs are based on the law and gazetted. If they are not gazetted, they are not valid. This is something that not many people are aware of. That is why if the government decides to formulate the SOPs, as long as they are not gazetted they cannot be enforced,” he said.
“The government does not care who (the individuals are), from ministers to the prime minister, who violate (the SOPs). If there is clear evidence based on the law, they will not escape punishment, compound, charge (prosecution) and so on,” he added.
However, he said that in Malaysia, which has a population of 30 million, the authorities would be unable to monitor everyone, and some would be seen as escaping punishment.
He urged the people to refrain from violating the SOPs, saying they are not made to restrict people’s freedom, including human rights.
He also urged the people to cooperate by complying with the SOPs in order to ensure the well-being of everyone.