KOTA KINABALU: A Warisan senior leader confirmed that the party has decided to bar Special Branch personnel from attending its press conferences.
Warisan vice-president Junz Wong told FMT today that the Special Branch will not be allowed into any press conference if they were there uninvited.
“If they want to request for it, they should identify themselves and not pretend to be reporters,” he said.
Junz, who is also the state agriculture and food industry minister, said it had been the norm in the past for the police to send their Special Branch personnel to cover government and opposition events. Under the present Warisan government, that practice was no longer in place.
“There is no reason, and no business, to be there at the press conferences,” he said.
Special Branch personnel are usually assigned to secure the perimeter for ministers and government events. They call this “flushing” to neutralise any threats before any government events involving high-ranking officials take place.
They also cover the event and report on it to their superiors. A Special Branch officer says this requires them to sit in at press conferences.
News of the new “ruling” was reported on social media, and was condemned by some bloggers as it had been usual for Special Branch officers to be present at political functions or press conferences.
Questions were also asked why Warisan decided to put this rule in place and whether Warisan president and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal is aware of this as it only made him look bad.
A local political activist and blogger, Ronnie Klassen, said the person who enforced the new ruling is the chief minister’s own “media consultant”, a former journalist in Sabah, who is now on Shafie’s payroll.
According to a Special Branch officer, this media consultant had, on a number of occasions, thrown out Special Branch personnel from press conferences involving Warisan leaders, including Shafie.