Like it or not, we’ll be there, police tell Warisan after ‘ban’ at press conferences

Warisan president and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal addressing a press conference in Kota Kinabalu in February.

PETALING JAYA: Special Branch officers will continue to attend press conferences called by Warisan although the party has decided to bar them.

Inspector-General of Police Hamid Bador said Special Branch officers would continue to be assigned for such events in the interest of national security and peace.

Hamid said Warisan vice-president Junz Wong was free to announce the ban but the police would still assign officers wherever they were needed.

“If they (Warisan) want to call the media, then it is an open (public) event. If there is trouble, at least they are there,” Hamid said.

Wong told FMT yesterday the Special Branch would not be allowed at any press conference if they were there uninvited.

Wong, who is also the state agriculture and food industry minister, said it had been the norm in the past for Special Branch personnel to be present at government and opposition events.

Under the present Warisan government, that practice was no longer in place, he said.

Hamid said Wong should be more careful when making such statements, adding that Warisan should not think of the police as their enemies.

“I will ensure officers are assigned to maintain peace and harmony, especially when it involves political parties and their rivals,” he said.

Hamid, formerly the Special Branch chief, said the situation was different when political parties held closed-door meetings.

“If they want to discuss party matters privately, then we do not need to be there.

“But whenever activities are carried out in public, and the police feel the need to be there, we will send officers,” 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 event involving high-ranking officials takes 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 such functions.

They also asked whether Warisan president and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal was aware of this as it only made him look bad.