Phee released, 155 from patrol unit expected to be freed

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GEORGE TOWN: Police released state welfare, caring society and environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh yesterday evening and all 155 Penang Voluntary Patrol Unit members were expected to be freed by midnight yesterday, The Malaysian Insider reported.

According to a police source, Phee and the PPS members had had their statements recorded and were to be released on police bail.

Outside the Northeast District police headquarters, scores of people including Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his executive council members were seen waiting for an update on the case.

Earlier yesterday, Penang police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi announced their remand for a day till today to facilitate investigations.

He said police would carry out a crackdown on the rest of the PPS members.

“We remanded Phee and the 155 members, aged between 18 and 67, till tomorrow under Section 43 of the Societies Act 1966. Seven of them are women,” said Abdul Rahim.

“PPS is an illegal organisation, so we will arrest all its members. There is no deadline. Therefore, I urge the members to surrender themselves to the police,” he said.

Abdul Rahim said initial investigations showed 11 of the detained members possessed criminal records. Four of them tested positive for drugs.

He said despite the fact that only one person had links with a secret society, being a former detainee under the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance 1969 (EO), the police would go on with the crackdown.

Rahim revealed the PPS members who possessed criminal records came under Section 304, 379, 380, and 392 of the Penal Code, respectively, and also various drug offences and customs laws.

“Some of them have records for attempted murder, theft, break-ins and robbery. The suspect who was a former EO detainee was convicted for a drug offence previously,” he said.

He added that police seized 153 purple PPS T-shirts and 154 maroon berets bearing the Penang state emblem that formed the group’s uniform, a PPS placard and flag, a Jalur Gemilang, a Penang flag, walkie-talkies and membership cards.

He said the detainees comprised pensioners, civil servants, those who were self-employed and students.

While reiterating that 14 men and seven women were released on police bail early this morning, Abdul Rahim said the police had information on 30% of the members.

When asked whether the state government had presented a list of members to the police to be vetted for criminal records, he replied in the negative.

He also denied claims that the police and the PPS had worked together to patrol the streets within the state.

“I do not want to get involved in the challenges that are being thrown about on this matter.

“We are looking at this issue purely on the legal aspect and not on political insight,” he said, when asked to comment on the exchanges between Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar who announced the PPS as illegal and Lim’s relentless defence of the unit. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 2, 2014.