Malaysia

After 20 days, life goes on in locked down Simpang Renggam villages


Kampung Dato Ibrahim Majid has been under the enhanced movement control order since March 26.

PETALING JAYA: It has been 20 days since two neighbourhoods in Simpang Renggam, Johor came under the enhanced movement control order (EMCO).

What was to have been a 14-day mass quarantine of some 3,500 residents, has now extended to more than a month.

Nowadays, they have got used to announcements blared out from police loudspeakers, reminding them to “stay at home, keep calm and take care of hygiene”.

Yesterday, the government said the EMCO in Kampung Dato Ibrahim Majid and Bandar Baharu Dato Ibrahim Majid would be lifted on April 28, on the same day the nationwide movement control is likely to end.

Under EMCO, people are barred from leaving their homes, not even to buy essential items. Instead, authorities will distribute basic food and necessities with the help of the Social Welfare Department.

Throughout the day, some 200 police and army personnel man over 15 roadblocks in the two villages, assisted by about 20 local volunteers.

Still, the two areas continued to report new cases.

The village head of Kampung Dato Ibrahim Majid said new cases were reported almost every day in the two areas.

“Recently, there have also been two new deaths,” Sarlan Yasmin told FMT.

He said villagers were more concerned about their safety than the impact of the lockdown on livelihood.

Most residents are either retirees, or work as farmers and palm oil smallholders.

“Even if they have money right now, they cannot use it,” Sarlan added.

He said one worry among villagers is that their area “does not feel clean yet”.

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Despite the stringent measures by the authorities, he said many houses have yet to be subjected to Covid-19 screening.

“Many parts of the villages, especially in the more interior areas, have not undergone screening. Those who have are still waiting for the results.”

Sarlan said both authorities and villagers have shown cooperation throughout the EMCO period.

At least twice a week, villagers are given basic food items such as rice, cooking oil and flour.

“For fresh food such as fish and vegetables, they supply it every day,” he said.

Other items such as diapers were given to him as the village head, to be distributed to households that needed them.

“The authorities have been working with me, and working really hard,” said Sarlan.

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