KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — Police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar shot down today Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru’s question about the authorities’ double standards in dealing with the anti-Goods and Services Tax (GST) protesters.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) said the chief of the professional legal association should ask such questions in court instead.
"I think he should keep his questioning in court. There is no need to question me," Khalid said when asked on the matter at a press conference in here.
"There will be time for them to ask us questions so why don't they utilise that instead?" he added.
Yesterday, Steven urged the IGP to explain why his men had not arrested the protesters who held a recent rally to demand that a church in Petaling Jaya bring down a cross from its facade, but detained those who participated in the anti-GST rally on May 1.
Khalid suggested today that lawyers had no right to question police actions, saying this was a standard practice in the doctrine of "separation of powers".
"We have separation of powers right. We are doing our job...the judiciary also have their own avenue way (sic) to ask why we do things," he said.
Steven had said that the lack of arrests in the protest that forced a Taman Medan church to remove its cross contrasted with the detention of 29 people, including minors, for a rally here on May 1, putting the impartiality of the police in question.
Highlighting the unequal treatment in both high-profile cases, the Malaysian Bar president also criticised in particular the detention of six minors in the mass arrests that followed the May Day rally.
“Indeed, in the recent protest in Taman Medan, Selangor on April 19, 2015, the police did not arrest any protestor, and only questioned one of the persons involved, for about three hours on April 22, 2015.
“Such seemingly inconsistent treatment by the police lends to the perception that the police practise selective or unfair policing,” Steven said in a statement.
The May Day rally organised by civil society movement #KitaLawan last week drew more than 10,000 to the streets of the capital in a massive show of protest against the GST that came into effect on April 1.
Although largely peaceful, police later arrested 20 rally-goers including six minors while former Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and three Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers were arrested when they went to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters to give their statements.
More lawmakers have since been arrested, including PKR vice president Chua Tian Chang who alleged abuse by police officers who detained him in Penang.
In the Taman Medan protest on April 19, some 50 protesters rallied outside a church there to demand the removal of the cross displayed on the building’s exterior, claiming it upset the largely Malay community.
Among the protesters was Datuk Abdullah Abu Bakar, the elder brother to Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who was later questioned over the incident.
Today, the police said it was up to the Attorney-General’s Chambers whether the Taman Medan protesters will be prosecuted.