KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 ― Penang DAP MP Ng Wei Aik has suggested that the massive round-up of Penang's volunteer patrol unit (PPS) members yesterday was aimed at throwing the few lawmakers involved in jail and disqualifying them from their seats.
The Penang DAP Socialist Youth chief said the haul, although executed by the police, was a “politically-motivated” strategy designed to throw the DAP-led northern state into turmoil by forcing by-elections in several seats.
“The whole crackdown on PPS is politically-motivated,” Ng said in a statement this morning.
“To ensure the whole PPS can be disbanded and all elected representatives who are the caretakers of the PPS in their respective constituencies can be put to jail and eventually lose their qualifications as elected representatives,” he continued.
But Ng added a stern warning to Barisan Nasional's (BN) top leadership, particularly to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, telling both men not to “dream” of recapturing Penang from the DAP.
“The police's high-handed approach in cracking down on the PPS has undoubtedly warrant all Penangites to teach BN another big lesson in the event that any seat falls vacant following the conviction of elected representatives in their relations to the PPS,” he said.
Ng also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all the remaining PPS members still under police custody, saying their arrests were unlawful to begin with.
He said the police force had abused its power by ordering the group detained as it was not their duty to determine the legitimacy of the state-appointed PPS body.
He said only the Registrar of Societies (RoS) would have the power to declare an organisation legal or illegal.
“The police should not have acted in all capacities including as the complainant, the investigator, the arrestor and even as the prosecutor against PPS,” he said.
The PPS is still deemed a government agency, Ng said, pointing out that it was one set up by the state government.
“The police should leave it to the ROS to determine whether the PPS should register with the ROS.
“There are certain procedures and mechanism laid under the Societies Act 1966, before action can be taken against an illegal body gazetted by the ROS,” he said.
The Penang government should be allowed to make its representation to the RoS to determine the legitimacy of the PPS and whether it is required to obtain a permit to run as a society under the Act.
Yesterday, a group of 154 PPS members consisting of individuals of all ages including senior citizens and seven women were suddenly arrested after they participated in the Merdeka celebration parade at the Esplanade in Penang.
State executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, the state official overseeing PPS, was subsequently arrested.
Police launched a crackdown against the PPS after BN leaders urged that the unit be disbanded following allegations by a 51-year-old man that its members had attacked him.
IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar responded by saying the group is illegal and will be investigated for not being registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS).
The 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.
Last night, the police reportedly agreed to release the women and those over the age of 60 who were among the PPS members detained.
But the agency will not free Phee even though he is 62 years old.
“For your information, all women detainees and those aged 60 and above will be freed on police bail,” Northeast district police Chief ACP Mior Faridalatrash Wahid said in a message to the media.
Lawyers appointed by the Penang government have been trying to secure the unconditional release of all 155, but earlier said the group may be forced to spend the night in police detention.
They also added that police may attempt to remand the group tomorrow to aid investigations into the PPS under Section 43 of the Societies Act 1966.