Shafie now says no policy to bar Special Branch

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal distributing bubur lambuk to the public in Kota Kinabalu today.

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal today denied his government has a new policy to bar the Special Branch from attending its press conferences.

Speaking to the media today, Shafie said he had raised the issue during the state Cabinet meeting and confirmed there was no decision by the government to ban any party from attending press conferences held by the chief minister or any of the state ministers.

“There is no standard procedure or ruling for that.

“If there is any, such a decision is incorrect and did not come from me or the state government.

“Special Branch personnel can come any time to our events and to our press conferences.”

Shafie, who is also Warisan president, said there was no reason for the government to stop Special Branch officers from carrying out their duties, especially since whatever was said at the press conferences would be reported in the media.

“So, what is there to hide? It is unnecessary and untrue.

“What I am saying is, it is not the government’s policy. Even when I was a federal minister, there was no such policy or restriction as to who can come to press conferences.”

The issue surfaced after a local political activist revealed in his Facebook page that Special Branch officers had been repeatedly told to leave venues where press conferences were held by Shafie and other Warisan leaders.

The allegation was also confirmed by a Special Branch officer who said it had happened not only in Kota Kinabalu but also in other places in Sabah.

Warisan vice-president Junz Wong, in admitting that this had happened before, said police personnel were welcome to attend but they should identify themselves and not pretend to be reporters.

Meanwhile, Shafie said the state Cabinet was preparing to fill the vacant post of health and people’s wellbeing minister, left vacant following the death of Stephen Wong in March.

“I will be making the announcement by tomorrow, if possible. It is only to fill this post. There will be no reshuffle of the state Cabinet,” he said.

Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Frankie Poon, who is Sabah DAP deputy chief, had been doubling as the minister in charge of the health and people’s wellbeing ministry.