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Police unbiased in arrests of protestors: Syed Hamid

PUTRAJAYA, 26 Nov 2008: Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar came to the defence of the police today, saying they were unbiased with regard to two public gatherings in Kuala Lumpur 23 Nov.

Syed Hamid said the police were impartial when they detained several supporters of an anti-ISA campaign in Ampang Jaya, Ampang, while allowing supporters of the Heritage Associations, Malay Cultural Organisations and Related Bodies Cooperation Network (Pewaris) to stage a pro-ISA rally and a march from Wisma Sejarah, Jalan Tun Razak, to the Jalan Tun Razak police station.

“I don’t think there is double standard. If you apply for it (permit for a gathering), and if the police allow it, then you can have the rally. If the police don’t allow (it), you don’t have the rally,” he told reporters after officiating at the ministry’s Quality and Integrity Day, here.

He said the anti-ISA protestors were arrested because they had organised an illegal gathering, without a police permit. The police had earlier confirmed that the Pewaris gathering and march was carried out with a police permit.

Syed Hamid said it was unnecessary for the people to demonstrate to voice their views because there were many other channels to raise their grievances.

“Why must you introduce this culture of demonstrating on the streets? When you start to demonstrate, other people demonstrate (as well). It is a reaction; so the best thing is to avoid.

“We need to ensure that safety and security are there. We should not give the impression to people that this country is in chaos. That scares away business. That’s not good for our country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Syed Hamid said the ministry was considering the possibility of extending the Immigration Department counter service to Saturday and Sunday, especially to facilitate passport matters.

He also said that the ministry was looking into increasing the number of staff for the department to handle the backlog of cases involving application for citizenship.

“I have set a target of six months to resolve this matter. We process about 5,000 applications in one month, and we need more staff for that,” he said.

On another matter, Syed Hamid said Malaysia was in 20th position on a list of 181 countries on the World Bank index of countries most comfortable do business in.

As such, he said, it was improper for anyone, including the opposition, to tarnish the country’s image by spreading untruths such as the country being unstable and so on.

“I do not think this will help our efforts to draw investors. Our political position is stable and our security is ensured. Of course we have problems sometimes like crime but that is not something which we cannot handle.

“Here, we have to be bipartisan in facing the global economic problem. We should not politicise things in terms of security, public order, national politics … this shouldn’t be the way we promote our country,” he said. — Bernama


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