An update on the MCO situation here in Malaysia.
Government announced an extension of the Movement Control Order / Restricted Movement Order, starting 1st April to 14th April 2020. This 2nd phase of MCO came with more restrictions such as shops only being allowed to operate from 8am to 8pm. It’s still only 1 person per vehicle unless for emergency reasons.
There’s also been a lot more road blocks set up especially near the toll booths. According to Majlis Keselamatan Negara (Malaysian National Security Council), over 4k people have been arrested during these roadblocks and checks, 1.4k people have been charged in court for flouting MCO regulations.
As of 4th April 2020, the total confirmed number of cases stand at 3483, with 915 recovered and 57 deaths.
As part of the economic stimulus package, the Malaysian Government announced financial aid in the form of Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN), a one off cash assistance to M40 and B40 groups. Cash aid is provided to both households and individuals who qualify. Eg. Households earning less than RM4000 a month would get RM1600, with RM1000 paid in April and RM600 in May.
Bank Negara Malaysia has also announced a moratorium on all loans (personal, hire purchase, mortgage) for 6 months. Interest is accrued but most banks are not compounding the interest during the moratorium. The moratorium/ deferment is automatic and customers can choose to opt out by contacting their respective banks. Only credit card balances are not part of the moratorium, but balances can be converted into installments.
One thing that stood out during this MCO 2nd phase was a blunder by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) that put out a series of posters on social media telling women what they should do during MCO with a hashtag #WanitaCegahCOVID19 loosely translated to Women Prevent COVID19. One of the most talked about “advice” was that wives should refrain from nagging their spouse and use humorous words instead while imitating Doraemon’s voice, followed by giggles. This is to avoid domestic disagreements and to ensure a happy family. This sparked outrage and backlash across Malaysia prompting the ministry to remove the sexist images and issue an apology which many consider to be a “non-apologetic” apology as they don’t seem to understand what people are not happy about.
Of course, in this trying times, it’s better to focus on positive news and appreciate Malaysians who truly embody the “Malaysian Spirit”. I took screenshots of some of these examples below.
Malaysian news outlets and companies have also been very creative during the MCO with many making subtle changes to their logos etc to encourage Malaysians to stay home.
Also, petrol prices are now RM1.30/ liter for Ron 95 and RM1.60/ liter for Ron 97!!! The last time petrol was this cheap was probably during my parent’s time…many many many years ago. April last year, Ron 95 was RM2.80/ liter. Cheap petrol prices but ironically none of us can drive anywhere. haha.
One of the big concerns is also regarding the upcoming Ramadhan (Fasting month) where we traditionally have huge Ramadhan bazaars all over Malaysia selling yummy food and drinks for breaking fast. Initially there were no plans to cancel these bazaars as they start after the MCO second phase (23rd April 2020 onwards) and certain states were making their own decisions to cancel. Latest news says it’s cancelled nationwide and vendors are encouraged to go online. Other changes during this MCO:
- Universities and schools have moved to online classes. Most universities are looking at alternative assessments (doing away with final exams) as long as learning outcomes are achieved.
- F&B are all takeaway / delivery only but only between 8am to 8pm.
- Ceiling price for face masks are now RM1.50 each and limited stock in pharmacies. I managed to buy a pack of 50 masks for RM90 from a nearby pharmacy. Some pharmacies are limiting the number of masks sold to each family.
- Hand sanitizers were initially out of stock but are currently in stock at all pharmacies, though more popular brands may be harder to find.
- Everyone is encouraged to wear masks when outside. WHO changed their guidelines from only those sick to all as there have been many cases of asymptomatic carriers.
- Some have started wearing gloves as well when shopping for essentials and groceries.
- It’s still difficult for some to buy Gardenia or Massimo loaves of bread. They seem to fly off the shelves before noon every day.
- Interstate travel is not allowed unless with special permission from PDRM (Royal Malaysia Police).
- Initial rule of traveling max 10km distance for essentials has been relaxed a bit for those who live in areas that have no clinics, supermarkets etc.
- Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) has been placed on a condo and several areas with high numbers of COVID19 cases: Kampung Dato’ Ibrahim Majid & Bandar Baharu Dato’ Ibrahim Majid (Simpang Renggam, Kluang, Johor), seven villages located at Batu 21 to Batu 24 in Sungai Lui, Hulu Langat, Selangor, and Menara City One Condo.
- Unfortunately shitty people are out trying to scam others and taking advantage of people’s fear. The Malaysian Government has repeatedly had to warn people to be careful of scams.
- Government is actively keeping Malaysians updated, press conferences by KKM are held every day at 5pm by Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham our Director General of Health.
Malaysians are reminding one another to “Flatten the curve”, “Stay home, stay safe”, and “We are in this together”.