In March, Malaysia’s announcement that borders of the entire country would be closed for two weeks in an attempt to control the local spread of COVID-19 caused renewed panic in neighbouring Singapore, which imports large amounts of fresh produce from the country.
This was two-week-old Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s first major crisis announcement after ousting predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad from Parliament in early March.
“The government’s priority now is to avoid the spreading of new infections, which will affect more people. [Therefore], drastic action needs to be taken [and] the government has decided to implement the ‘restriction of movement order’ starting from March 18 to March 31,” Muhyiddin said in a live telecast on March 16.
The order meant that all businesses would be temporarily close (except for retailers selling daily essentials like food), including all government and private premises not providing essential services (telecommunication, healthcare, utilities, etc.).