GEORGE TOWN: Penang Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS) founder Phee Boon Poh has welcomed with open arms a court decision to remove the home ministry’s illegal label on the squad.
“We are vindicated. Congratulations and big appreciation to the people of Penang who have stood by PPS all this while,” the state executive councillor said when contacted.
“I will be presenting a report on PPS court decision to the state executive council tomorrow (Wednesday).
“We will stand guided on what the council decides and we will take it from there,” Phee said.
The Court of Appeal ruled today that PPS, which was declared illegal by the home minister, had been lawfully set up by the Penang government.
Former PPS chief A Manickam said members were elated by the news, but could not forget the way they had been arrested.
“We were arrested while marching past our Tuan Yang Terutama (Yang di-Pertua Negri). It was very unfair of them to arrest us and put us under remand.
“Funny thing is, they have never charged us for anything despite extending our police bail three times,” he said when contacted.
PPS, which had more than 9,000 members, was formed by the Penang government in 2011 to help with volunteer work and fight crime in neighbourhoods.
However, it was declared illegal and marked as a threat to public security by the home ministry in 2014, following the Registrar of Societies’ decision labelling it an “unregistered” body.
On Aug 31, 2014, police arrested 158 PPS members at the state-level Merdeka parade on Esplanade Road.
Police also arrested Phee, along with Seri Delima state assemblyman RSN Rayer and Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik.
Rayer and Ng were the PPS chiefs of their respective constituencies.
All 158 members were later released without any case registered against them.
PPS members were also required to hand over their uniforms and walkie-talkies as part of the three-month operation against them.
The home ministry warned then that no one could use the name, logo or emblem of PPS.
All its accounts and assets were frozen and ordered surrendered to the Insolvency Department.
There were a number of instances where PPS members were accused of acting in a high-handed manner when dealing with the public.
In January 2013, the Magistrate’s Court here fined a shop assistant, who was a PPS member, RM3,000 for intentionally causing hurt to a journalist, committing mischief and causing damage.
On Aug 20, 2014, social activist Ong Eu Soon, 51, claimed he was assaulted by a group of helmet-wielding men wearing PPS’ purple vests in Air Itam.
Phee said then it was a case of a few rotten apples and claimed this did not reflect on the unit as a whole. He said disciplinary action was taken against them and that some were suspended.
The state government spent RM3.82 million on PPS, from 2011 to its disbandment in 2014.
The Penang government formed a new unit of volunteers called the Voluntary Patrol Body (BPS) to replace PPS in November 2015.
The BPS was formed under the Village Security, Safety and Development Committee.
It was set up in 40 areas in Penang and currently has 607 members. Each area was allotted RM30,000 by the state government.
It also has a free SOS service which could be activated using a mobile app called BPS SOS App.
Last December, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar advised the Penang government to dissolve BPS, declaring that it was of “no use” and likely to be outlawed as well.