GEORGETOWN, Sept 8 – A group of 51 Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have backed a memorandum to the police in Penang, calling for the arrest of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over his leadership of the state government’s Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS). Calling their group the Islamic NGOs Front of Penang, the participating bodies want Lim to be hauled up for investigations on the PPS, which has been pronounced illegal by the Inspector-General of Police. The memorandum, addressed to state Chief Police Officer (CPO) Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi, was submitted to the state police headquarters by a group of representatives today. The NGOs include Malay rights group Perkasa, the Federation of Peninsular Malaysia Students (GPMS), Organisation of Islamic Welfare and Dakwah of Malaysia (Pekida), the Tanjung Malay Association and the Penang Silat Council.
Among those present to hand over the memorandum were Penang Perkasa youth chief Mohd Rizuad Mohd Azudin and GPMS information chief Ahmad Yaakob. A total of 157 members, including state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh and Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer, were arrested on August 31 after a PPS contingent had finished marching during the official state-level Merdeka Day parade in George Town. They are being investigated under section 43 of the Societies Act 1966 for being involved with an unlawful organisation. Lim has challenged IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to a debate on the legitimacy of the PPS which was formed to help in emergencies and disasters, as well as for community patrolling.
He has said the state will accept the decision of the courts on the legitimacy of the PPS. Lim has also wondered aloud when police would come after him over the unit. He said that the state government, consisting of the state executive council and the chief minister, is responsible for the formation of the PPS. The memorandum submitted today congratulated the police for the mass arrest which it said proved that the police did not neglect the numerous police reports made against the PPS. “In spite of this, after a week has passed following the arrests of PPS members, we find that the police have not taken any action on Lim Guan Eng, the chief minister of Penang, although he is the head and highest state leader fully responsible for the formation and activities of the PPS,” it said.
The participating NGOs in their memorandum hoped that relevant laws, including the Sedition Act 1948, the Public Order (Preservation) Act 1958 and others would be used to arrest Lim and charge him in court. On September 2, nine police reports were lodged by representatives of a group of 14 NGOs calling itself Gabungan Kewakilan Melayu Pulau Pinang, which included Perkasa, against a news report by journalist Susan Loone in Malaysiakini. Loone was subsequently arrested for sedition before being released on police bail on September 4. The report, which appeared in the news portal on September 1, had quoted Phee, while he was under arrest overnight on August 31, as claiming that he was interrogated by the police for four hours and was treated like a “criminal”.