PPS arrests: Aliran calls for an explanation


Aliran is appalled at the arrests of 155 members of the Penang Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS) after the Merdeka parade yesterday.

Chief Minister and PPS relatives and friends outside Patani Road Police Station

Penang state exco member Phee Boon Poh, who is also PPS chairperson, was also arrested yesterday evening when he went to the Northeast police headquarters to give his statement together with the Chief Minister of Penang and lawyer R S N Rayer.

None of this should have happened. Those arrested are apparently being investigated under section 43 of the Societies Act 1966 for carrying out activities while not being registered with the Registrar of Societies. Should a judicial process become necessary we assume that it will take place without fear or favour.

Yet the timing of all this seems strangely provocative. It would be pertinent to know if this action has been authorised by the Attorney General.

At a time when the authorities, including the police, need to avoid circumstances which can heighten tension and threaten our peace and harmony, why has there been a lack of discretion, patience and prudence?

This recent episode further undermines the credibility of the police to act in a fair an even-handed manner. Let not freedom and justice be trampled upon by whichever quarter on the anniversary of our independence.

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Aliran calls for a full explanation and the immediate release of all those detained.

Aliran executive committee
1 September 2014

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  1. The PPS is a voluntary squad set up by the state government to assist it in certain public functions, most notably to ensure the public orderliness, not much different from Rela or Rukun Tetangga. Its assistance can also be called upon during difficult situations like natural disasters and other calamities It is also useful in nurturing the feeling of ownership, empowerment and sense of belonging among the people especially the members and their family members, relatives and acquaintances.

    In a healthy modern democracy, the police is responsible to assist the government of whichever level to function smoothly. Since the PPS is a state government’s initiative, it is therefore appropriate or even imperative for the police to work closely with the PPS. Based on this, the public outburst by the IGP against the PPS that preceded the mass arrest by his police force against its members is definitely shocking. The IGP should have been more circumspect rather than being seen to be on a warpath with the state government. Had he crossed his mind that he should had allowed the alleged illegality of the organization to be first decided by the court before springing into action? Why did he act in such haste considering his reluctance to act on the AG’s decision pertaining to the seized bibles? If some members of the organization were to act beyond their bounds of duty or the law, shouldn’t the police act on the individuals rather than the organization as a whole? In short, is the IGP assuming the roles of the judge, jury and executioner, all in one? And for this, he seems to be taking to heart some of the public criticisms of him which he deems as derogatory.

    This mass arrests of peaceful PPS members who took part in the National Day procession certainly dampened the mood of the celebration. Moreover, it comes toe-to-toe with a succession of sedition charges that were slapped on some outspoken PR leaders, mostly with mind-boggling reasons that do not befit a progressive modern democracy. This probably stands as the greatest irony of the 57th Merdeka Day as the term merdeka (independence) is usually synonymous with concept of social, economic and political liberty, freedom of expression, association and movement, freedom from oppression by the strong and powerful, amongst others.


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