Malaysia extends anti-virus lockdown until June 9

Soldiers wearing face masks patrol next to barbed wire at a newly locked down coronavirus affected area at old town of Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on Sunday. (AP)
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Updated 11 May 2020

Malaysia extends anti-virus lockdown until June 9

  • Move to curb mass movement of people during Ramadan, officials say

SINGAPORE: Malaysia has extended its nationwide lockdown until June 9 to curb the movement of people during Ramadan and Eid celebrations at the end of the month, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in an address to the nation on Sunday.

“On the advice of the Health Ministry and the National Security Council, I would like to announce that the conditional MCO (movement control order) effective until May 12, will be extended until June 9 or another four weeks,” he said.
Ramadan is an important month for Muslims across Malaysia who comprise 60 percent of the total population of 32.37 million.
However, Malaysia is also home to a multicultural society, where almost all religious and cultural festivities are celebrated and considered a national holiday.
“During this period, there are major festivals celebrated and these will usually involve a mass movement of people, namely the Hari Raya Aidilfitri and the Harvest Festival. Thus, I would like to remind people that the interstate movement ban is still in force during this period,” Muhyiddin said.
It is common practice for Malaysians to travel across state borders to visit their grandparents and relatives during festivities and public holidays, with several hosting large gatherings as part of Ramadan celebrations.
“I know many people are sad as they are unable to return for the holidays in the village with the family,” said the 72-year-old Malaysian leader, urging Malaysians to “be patient” and wait until thing return to normal.
However, the public is allowed to visit neighbors and relatives and celebrate festivities within state borders, while spouses with partners working in different states are exempted from the ban.

FASTFACT

Ramadan is an important month for Muslims across Malaysia who comprise 60 percent of the total population of 32.37 million.

As an additional measure, a maximum of 20 people are allowed to gather at a time, as long as they practice proper social distancing and hygiene measures.
While most places of worship remained closed on Sunday, authorities said that they were considering whether or not to allow Friday prayers and other congregational prayers during the month.
Malaysia imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 18 to flatten the coronavirus curve.
With a significant decrease in the infection rate, the latest tally stands at less than 100 cases, with 5,025 recoveries reported.
As part of efforts to gradually build up the country’s economy, Malaysia eased the MCO earlier this week to allow most businesses to operate.
Experts commended the move, with Malaysian physician and public health specialist, Dr. Khor Swee Kheng, telling Arab News on Sunday that he “welcomed the extension.”
“Malaysia has to prepare for an ultra-long-term strategy for COVID-19, as we will be in this until 2021 at least. This means strategic and predictable decision-making, not short-term reactions,” Dr. Khor said, adding that a “phased restart of public life was imperative.”
“The longer the MCO or CMCO lasts, the more important it is to focus on the social determinants of health. Citizens and residents of Malaysia must receive adequate economic, social and psychological support, not only health care. The social safety net must be strengthened now,” he said.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.