Sibu police not denying some longhouse folks give lockdown a slip

A typical longhouse in Sarawak

THE police are not denying the allegations that said some residents of longhouses placed under COVID-19 lockdown order in Sibu district had ‘escaped’ from the lockdown area by using forest trails.

Sibu OCPD ACP Stanley Jonathan Ringgit said police believed that the residents could have done it by crossing the orchard behind their longhouses before using forest trails to go to the main road, but the police could not act on the matter due to lack of manpower and the wide areas needed to be covered.

“They can reach the main road on foot in two to three hours without us knowing as we only blocked the entrance road of their longhouses,” he told a press conference today.

He said 48 longhouses were currently under lockdown order since the Pasai Cluster was declared on Jan 7.

Allegations had spread on the social media claiming that some residents in the longhouses had resorted to leaving their longhouses without the authorities knowledge as they were angry for being under such lockdown order for far too long.

The claims had raised public concerns here as they feared the efforts to flatten down the COVID-19 infection curve would take longer time and would prolong the Movement Control Order (MCO) currently imposed in the division, which involved the districts of Sibu, Kanowit and Selangau.

Meanwhile, Sibu Division Disaster Management Committee Charles Siaw, when asked on the requirement for business sector operating the essential services in Sibu to apply for a police permit for work-related travels during the MCO period, said it only applied to those who wanted to go out of Sibu district.

“It must be for work-related travel and it will be one application for each company. It is not needed if you are not going out of Sibu or pass through any roadblocks mounted by the police.

“For those who travel on a personal capacity, they have to apply for a different permit,” he said at the same press conference.

Employers are required to submit a copy of their business license, name list of their employees and identification number and work schedule when applying for the permit at any police station in Sibu or contact the COVID-19 hotline at 013-9994158 for more information.