Special Branch officers should identify themselves during party or govt events, says Warisan veep

Junz Wong. -Bernamapic

KOTA KINABALU: Police Special Branch (SB) personnel can attend Parti Warisan Sabah or government events, but they should identify themselves, said Datuk Junz Wong.

The Warisan vice-president said SB officers have to tell organisers that they are from the police force.

He was responding to claims that SB officers were barred from party or government functions.

According to Wong, there have been instances of unknown individuals attending press conferences pretending to be reporters.

"We can't have people coming to an event claiming that they are journalists. It will be misleading.

"For this reason, even if they are police officials, it would be better to make themselves known, instead of acting as if they are members of the media,” he said in a statement on Tuesday (May 14).

Wong, who is state Agriculture and Food Industries Minister, added that genuine media practitioners at times do not have space to sit at allotted tables during functions, as their places have been taken up by SB personnel.

"Some media have complained but due to politeness, they do not ask the non-media person to leave the media table.

"The genuine media practitioners end up standing or leaving the function," he said.

The Tanjung Aru assemblyman said embarrassment could be spared if SB officers informed government or party officials of their attendance, as spaces can be specifically allotted for them in the function.

Wong also denied that banning SB officers from attending press conferences held by Warisan leaders was common practice, as it only happened once or twice.

He clarified that everybody, including the police Special Branch, are welcomed to attend government and Warisan events.

Wong reiterated that the issue was never about preventing people from coming to the events, but about the omission of their identities.

"Press conferences are held by the government and party from time to time to inform the public of government plans, among others.

"There is nothing secret in a press conference. It is for public consumption," he said.

Earlier, Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador was reported as saying that he wanted to put the issue to rest.

According to report by an English daily, Abdul Hamid said it was a matter of confusion and that police presence at a press conference was to ensure orderly conduct.

"I will not prolong this matter. Also Warisan is part of the Federal Government. So I don't see any big issue. The presence of the police there was solely out of concern for security of the event or any event for that matter," he was quoted as saying.

In events held specifically for private party matters, Abdul Hamid said the police will not be interested to be there at all, unless their presence was requested by the party concerned.

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