KUALA LUMPUR: There needs to be clarity as to whether Penang’s controversial voluntary patrol unit (PPS) is a community services team or plays a security role, too.
Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria called on both the police and the state government to clarify PPS’ legal position.
He said a state government had the right to set up its own community services team.
“This is similar to its power to set up community services teams like the Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK).
“So there is a need to clarify if PPS is a voluntary community unit or playing security roles such as traffic control, which requires them to be officially authorised.”
Dr Denison added that the police could have taken a more amicable route to finding a solution for the sake of the federal–state relations rather than arrest PPS members at a Merdeka event.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chief Datuk Seri Michael Chong welcomed the establishment of civil voluntary units to upkeep public order and national security, but cautioned against abuse of power.
“If you think going through the registration procedure is too troublesome, then you can join existing organisations like Rela and Rukun Tetangga,” said Chong, who is also an Honorary Deputy Commissioner of Rela (the People’s Volunteer Corps).
Rela was set up in 1972 under the Home Ministry to help maintain public order and act as the “eyes and ears” of the security forces.
Malaysians who are above 18 and without a criminal record are eligible to join on a voluntary basis.
There are some 2.97 million Rela members, including 1.1 million females nationwide as of May this year.
Rela members assist the enforcement agencies on crackdowns against illegal immigrants and are allowed to carry weapons, including firearms, and to use them when permitted by the authorities.
Recently, they were given a new role – to be hired as private security guards to tighten security at housing estates.
This was to overcome the low manpower in the sector and also decrease the dependency on foreign workers, according to a Home Ministry’s circular.