No balik kampung for city folks this year

Ismail Sabri – Picture from Bernama

By John Isaac

ONLY tertiary students stranded in campuses and Malaysians away from their usual residences following the Movement Control Order (MCO) are eligible to apply for permission to return to their respective homes during Ramadan.

However, those residing in cities are not allowed to go back to their hometowns for the fasting month, which begins tomorrow, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“For those in the cities who wish to ‘balik kampung’ (go back to their hometowns), that is not allowed.

“Registration of travel away from rural areas is only allowed for those who are currently stranded (there) for more than a month,” he said.

According to The New Straits Times, just before the MCO was enforced, a large number of Malaysians left for their hometowns as the period coincided with the start of school holidays.

Once the MCO was implemented, they were forbidden to travel, and have been marooned since.

These people are now allowed to submit travel applications to local police stations – but, Ismail Sabri stressed, there is no guarantee they will automatically be given the go-ahead to travel.

“Once we collect data on the volume (and reasons) of those wanting to travel, we will hand it to the Health Ministry, the police and the National Security Council for further discussions,” he said.

Ismail Sabri added that travel registration will be made available via the Gerak Malaysia mobile application, or alternatively, applicants can walk in to any police station beginning Saturday (April 25).

Meanwhile, he also said standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Ramadan month will be the same as those in the current MCO.

However, he said a slight tweak was made to allow Muslims to make necessary preparations to break fast.

“The meeting today concluded that operational hours for public vehicles will now be from 4pm to 10pm compared to the previous which was 5pm to 10pm.

“The operational hours for wet markets will also be extended from 6am to 2pm, compared to 6am to noon previously,” he told a press conference aired live on television today.

Asked if operational hours for restaurants too will be increased, Ismail said no.

“For now, we are maintaining the same SOP because we want to reduce movement in this country.

“When there is plenty of movement, there is a chance some will disobey the rules, such as making all kinds of excuses just to go out,” he said.

On food supply at enhanced MCO areas, Ismail said the government received complaints on food distribution at Pusat Bandar Utara, here.

Following that he said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the Social Welfare Department (JKM) have been instructed to ensure issues surrounding food distribution in the area are resolved soon.

He also said operation centres at EMCO areas have been set up and affected residents can seek help from the authorities stationed there.

“For residents who are having problems such as buying essentials like formula milk for babies, diapers and others, they can contact the operation centres at their respective areas.

“However, the cost (to buy the items) must be paid by them (the residents),” he said.