KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — Barisan Nasional had previously formed an entity similar to Penang’s volunteer patrol unit (PPS) when crime was high in Selangor, former New Straits Times (NST) chief editor Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin has said when commenting on the outfit facing a police crackdown. The veteran journalist wrote in his blog that authorities coming down on the unit were too far removed from the public to understand the concerns that spawned the volunteer patrol force, as government dignitaries had the privilege of police escorts and “fierce-looking” bodyguards. “There is no need for me to discuss the pros and cons of the voluntary unit or the war of attrition that is being played out now. Suffice to say that it is yet another manifestation of our collective desperation and the failure of the establishment to live up to its promises,” he said.
“The vigilantes, the barricades, the Nepalese guards, the brisk sales of security equipment are the manifestation of the rakyat’s despondence with the existing law and order mechanism and the ineffectiveness of such community-based initiatives as the Rukun Tetangga and friends of the police aka Rakan Cop,” added the former NST editor. He pointed out that former Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib had formed an independent security force called Badar, which he said acted like an Islamic moral police force. But the force was disbanded after several members were found to have extorted money from immigrant workers, Abdul Kadir explained. “What I like to say is the Penang’s voluntary patrol unit is neither new nor unique,” said Abdul Kadir.
The PPS was formed by the Penang government in May 2011 to assist the public in a variety situations including directing traffic, in times of disaster and to patrol the streets as a preventive measure against crime. Police detained 155 members of the PPS on Sunday after the Merdeka Day parade in Penang, on grounds that the organisation is not registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS). Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also said Monday that the police may also go after the PAS volunteer body, Unit Amal, as the group was not registered with the RoS either. The police crackdown on the PPS is still ongoing, with authorities saying they may go after the remaining 9,000 volunteers. Legal experts have also questioned the arrests, pointing out that the PPS has not been gazetted.