SB not a problem if they identify themselves, says Warisan

Warisan says unknown individuals pretending to be reporters sometimes take up space at media events meant for real journalists.

KOTA KINABALU: Warisan vice-president Junz Wong has sought to clear the air over reports that Special Branch (SB) personnel have been barred from attending party or government functions, saying they are allowed to do so provided that they identify themselves as police officers.

Wong, who is state agriculture and food industry minister, referred to instances where he said unknown individuals had attended press conferences pretending to be reporters.

“We can’t have people coming to an event, claiming that they are journalists. It would be misleading,” he said in a statement.

He added that there was sometimes insufficient space at media tables for genuine media practitioners as their places were taken by SB personnel.

“Some members of the media have complained, but out of politeness they do not ask the non-media people to leave the media table,” the Tanjung Aru assemblyman said.

“The genuine media practitioners end up standing or leaving the function.”

Warisan vice-president Junz Wong.

Wong previously said SB officers would not be allowed uninvited to any press conference. He said they should request to attend the event and identify themselves as police.

He also acknowledged that it had been the norm in the past for police to send SB personnel to cover government and opposition events. However, Warisan had decided to put a stop to this, he added.

Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador had defended the SB presence at government events, saying they are only there to ensure public peace and safety.

He also said the SB had no interest if a party held activities on its own premises but that they would attend if an event is held in a public place.

Wong denied that SB personnel had been banned from attending Warisan media events all the time, saying this only happened on one or two occasions.

He added that everyone, including the SB, is welcome to attend government and Warisan events.

“It’s not about stopping people from coming to our events,” he said.

“There is nothing secret about press conferences. They are for public consumption.”