NAIVETE or arrogance? What explains the Penang chief minister’s need for an unregistered voluntary organisation, the Penang Voluntary Patrol (PPS), with some 10,000 members, replete with uniforms and accorded enough importance to warrant a contingent in the recent Merdeka celebrations parade? Why was he adamantly defending the legitimacy of this organisation, its voluntary nature being the excuse which, he asserts, is justification for why it does need to be registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS)? Why, in his view, was the police wrong to threaten its members with arrest on the grounds that the PPS is illegal? The PPS has had ample warning: register with the RoS or disband. Unfortunately, the chief minister, for some unfathomable reason, instead openly challenged the Inspector-General of Police, Malaysia’s supreme law enforcer, to act.
This makes the IGP a functionary of the state, a civil servant, without any political affiliation. Should some take exception to his actions, then this is caused by nothing other than ignorance or political obduracy. As for the Penang chief minister, there is no mistaking that politics drives his actions and colours his attitudes. Was he truly unaware that, for an organisation to mobilise in the way the PPS has, it must firstly be registered? Or was he ill-advised? Without proper registration, questions about the PPS’ accountability, funding, transparency and selection process remain unanswered and, therefore, open to misrepresentation or worse, abuse. And with a list of functions that include crime fighting, is the PPS then not a direct challenge to the police force that has been trained and employed to maintain law and order? That there is at all a feeling that Penang needs its own storm troopers, so to speak, makes pertinent the question asked by the Umno Youth head: why does the Penang government feel it needs to form “its own army”?The inference from that question is crystal clear. Such a move definitely has the potential to endanger the nation’s security. Imagine if every state, or any group for that matter, decides to have its own law-enforcement body, which at some level duplicates that of the Royal Malaysian Police and other authorised law-enforcement bodies. The law is clear: the defence of the realm and national security comes under the purview of the Federal Government. To not register an organisation does not mean it can circumvent this constitutional arrangement. It is, therefore, disingenuous of the Penang chief minister to try and defend an indefensible act. The Penang government, led by DAP, must be checked, if for nothing else, then as an example that the law can neither be toyed nor tampered with. Those who feel that the police is acting beyond reason and are politically motivated in this instance cannot then cry foul when, later, these hoodlums or vigilantes — among the arrested PPS members are ex-convicts imprisoned for serious crimes — run riot with or without political backing. NST Editorial 3 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:09 AM