Malaysians are venting their frustrations over ever-changing announcements made by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) over interstate travel restrictions
The initial decision was announced by Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador during a press conference at 5.35pm yesterday, 17 March.
In the 40-minute-long session with media, he said the members of the public are allowed to travel across states only after they have applied for a written document from any police stations.
He also said that the police will take a soft approach in enforcing the restriction movement order, which starts today, 18 March, and lasts until 31 March.
Any citizens who offend the law will first receive advice, then a warning on the second offence, before finally being arrested, reported theSundaily.
Following the IGP's announcement, thousands of Malaysians brought their bags in their cars and flocked to the nearest police stations to get their hands on the travel permit
Photos of long queues outside of police stations were widely circulated on social media last night.
Citizens were seen lining up in long queues at police stations in Tanjong Malim, Sungai Besi, Serdang, and Shah Alam. It created a scene much like a mass gathering, something which is against the purpose of the Restricted Movement Order (RMO).
Upon learning the situation, one netizen sarcastically commented, "Mass gathering kaw kaw. I'm sure they are among those who are not infected by COVID-19."
"This will be the cause of total lockdown on April 1 when the outbreak becomes uncontrollable."
Another Facebook user said, "The goal of the restriction movement order is to control the spread of the virus. (But) so many people gather at the police stations. Someone will get infected there."
After seeing a large crowd gathered at the police stations nationwide, the IGP released a statement revoking the need to obtain the travel permit
At 12am today, 18 March, PDRM took to its official Facebook page to announce that the IGP has rescinded the ban on interstate travelling.
"Citizens who want to travel to other states have built up a crowd in police stations and bus stops," Sinar Harian quoted the IGP as saying.
"In light of that, we are retracting the requirement of an interstate travel permit and the public can safely travel tonight, 17 March.
"No restrictions will be imposed on them until a new decision is announced after the meeting on this matter tomorrow."
However, the statement has further angered many Malaysians as they pleaded the police to get their act together
"Private companies are sacrificing their business for two weeks. Don't waste the rakyat's efforts. Please strictly enforce the control order. Even 40 days is not enough. We will be the next Italy. Please PDRM, be firm and be strict, don't joke!" commented an irate netizen.
Another person summed up the situation, sarcastically saying, " First, ban interstate travelling to curb virus from spreading.
"Then, came up (sic) with the leniency of obtaining a permit for interstate travelling, giving a certain group of people who wanted to travel anxiously a glimpse of hope that it is possible to do so and they started cramming police stations (so much of forbidding mass gathering to curb outbreak).
"When things got out of hand, interstate travelling ban was lifted, allowing interstate transmission to happen. Good job."
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has said that anyone who is found attending a social gathering can face up to two years' imprisonment:
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