Kuala Lumpur, 21 March 2020 — The announcement by Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that Malaysia’s military will be mobilised to support the Royal Malaysian Police in the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) is welcomed but its role must be clear.
No government deploys its military domestically unnecessarily and without just cause. The reasons should be made public and the tasks and responsibility of the military made clear. This is to avoid panic and misunderstanding, especially in the absence of a formal declaration of a national emergency,” emphasised Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive of the Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy.
“The military should be strictly limited to complementing the efforts of the police force in enforcing the partial lockdown.”
“Deployment of the military in peacetime should never be treated lightly. The armed forces are not trained in the same way as law enforcement bodies such as the police. Police deal with the domestic civilian population within the context of law enforcement. Soldiers are trained to deal with combatants and foreign aggressors. Despite their involvement in humanitarian operations, they are not always interchangeable.””Therefore it is important for the rules (dos and don’ts) for military deployment to be widely known to avoid any unwanted and adverse incidents. This is a public health crisis.”
“Having the military will definitely help increase coverage of enforcement of the MCO, and its physical presence on the streets will communicate strongly to citizens that this is an unprecedented crisis that requires their cooperation for the country to get through,” emphasised Azrul.
“Whether or not it will help reduce the numbers, still depends on the cooperation and discipline of Malaysians. The success of others such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, did not depend on the presence of the military but the cooperation of their citizens.”
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