GEORGE TOWN, Aug 31 — The arrests of 200 Penang volunteer patrol unit (PPS) members during a Merdeka parade here were an insult to the celebration of the nation’s independence, said a PKR Youth critical of the detentions today.
Penang PKR Youth information chief Aidil Ibrahim said the arrests have marred what was meant to be the harmonious celebration of the nation’s Independence Day by people from all walks of life today.
“We strongly condemn the police in taking action to detain the PPS members during a Merdeka celebration,” he said.
He called on the police to immediately release the 200 Penang volunteer patrol members unconditionally.
He defended the PPS as being a volunteer unit formed under the state government as a state agency that has provided community and social service to the public.
“Their shocking arrest today is proof that the police are unaware of those who had assisted in security issues in villages and residential areas while also assisting the police in prevention of crime,” he said in a statement issued today in response to the arrest this morning.
At about 10am today, about 200 PPS members were arrested and brought to the Beach Street police station immediately after they completed a march past in the Merdeka parade at Esplanade.
The members, consisting people of all ages including senior citizens, were then taken on a bus to the George Town police headquarters in Jalan Patani here.
Aidil noted today that the Village Security and Development Committees (JKKK) that serve a similar function were also not a registered body, yet was not considered an illegal organisation.
“The police should not become a tool for Barisan Nasional (BN) in penalising PPS but should be cooperating with the PPS members to provide social service to the community,” he said.
The recent allegations by a 51-year-old man that PPS members had attacked him had led to an uproar with Barisan Nasional leaders urging for the unit to be disbanded while Malay rights group Perkasa also lodged police reports urging the police to investigate the unit’s activities.
Earlier this week, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police are investigating the PPS under Section 41 of the Societies Act as the group is not registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS).
He then warned PPS members of arrest if they continued to participate in the unit’s activities.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar also reportedly said police have information that the unit acted like vigilantes and that the PPS members must be stopped from getting out of hand.
PPS was formed by the state government in May 2011 to assist the public in all situations including directing traffic, in times of disaster and to patrol the streets as a preventive measure against crime.
Currently, there are more than 9,000 PPS members in the state and the members have all undergone various training courses that include first aid and disaster management.