Yesterday was day one of the movement control order (MCO) phase three, which will go on till April 28. We’ve seen the MCO’s positive effects on Malaysia’s Covid-19 curve, which has seen no big spike, but of late there has been more cars on the road.

The authorities have vowed to come down harder on MCO phase three violators, those who move around with no legitimate reason. The new modus operandi is no longer a RM1,000 saman, but offenders will be brought straight to the police station and charged. The government will utilise the prison department’s academy buildings as detention centres to hold those who are sentenced for MCO offences.

In Sarawak, police arrested 142 people yesterday, and all were taken straight to police stations. According to deputy state police commissioner Datuk Dev Kumar, 28 of the 142 were arrested in Serian district, followed by Padawan (21), Sibu (18), Bintulu (17), Kuching (16), Kota Samarahan (11), Sarikei (70), Limbang (five), Song (four), Simanggang (two), Betong (two), Meradong (two) and Lundu (one).

“As of yesterday, the beginning of the third phase of MCO, any person who is arrested will be taken to the police station and have their statements recorded. If it is necessary, they will also be detained in the police lock-ups,” he said, reported by the Malay Mail.

Dev Kumar added that the police may also apply to the court to remand the violators for further investigations. “If there is no longer any need to detain them further, they will be released on police bail,” he said. MCO violators are liable to a maximum fine of not more than RM1,000, six months prison, or both upon conviction under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

“If there is no reason to go out, just stay at home. Anyone who is clearly defying the MCO will be arrested on the spot,” he warned.

Over in Johor, police arrested 236 people in violation of the MCO yesterday. Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said yesterday’s haul brings the total number of arrests in the state to 1,818 since the MCO kicked off on March 18. Those arrested were aged between 15 and 75. “The Johor police hopes that the public will be cooperative during this time to ensure the spread of Covid-19 is curbed,” he said.

In the Klang Valley, even the local councils got in the act. A joint night operation led by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) yesterday night saw 29 people brought to the Sungai Buloh police station. It wasn’t roadblocks, but the enforcement team – police officers and staff of the district and land office, as well as MBSA – was moving around to look for offenders.

As of yesterday evening, Malaysia has recorded 5,072 Covid-19 cases and 83 deaths from the novel coronavirus. The curve may have been flattening, but it’s clear that we’re not out of the woods yet, so please stay at home unless it’s for essentials. Let’s hunker down and get this over and done with, let’s make our MCO sacrifices worthwhile and not throw away the gains because of impatience.