Saturday, May 25

Special Branch not barred

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Print screen of the statement by the press and publications office of the Chief Minister’s Department.

KOTA KINABALU: Questions have arisen as to whether a coordinated attempt is being made by certain bloggers and media to destabilize the Parti Warisan Sabah-led government.

In a statement here yesterday by the press and publications office of the Chief Minister’s Department, it mentions that such suspicions have gained traction in recent days after a blogger attempted to pit the state government against the police force, setting off a chain reaction in the media that has since drawn misleading statements from politicians.

The statement further stated that the government has at no point barred Special Branch officers from attending the Chief Minister’s public events and press conferences at such public venues.

“There is no such policy; neither is there any instruction from the Chief Minister, nor is it the current government’s policy to prevent anyone from attending such press conferences, as, after all, what is disclosed at the press conference is public information,” the statement said.

“It is therefore quite clear that the blogger conjured up this so-called ban to provoke or create bad blood between the government and the police, the statement said,” adding that it noted that a news portal first ran a story based on hearsay spread by the blogger known to have personal agenda and motives.

Meanwhile, Warisan vice-president Datuk Junz Wong said there is no issue about Special Branch personnel attending the party or government events but they should identify themselves.

Clearing the air on claims that Special Branch officers were barred from party or government functions,he said that the only condition was that they identify themselves.

“We can’t have people coming to an event claiming  that they are journalists. It will be misleading,” he said.

Junz  said that they have to identify themselves to party organisers as they were from the  police and not as journalists.

The  state Agriculture and Food Industry Minister said there have been instances when unknown individuals attended press conferences and pretended to be reporters.

“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.

Wong also denied that cases of Special Branch personnel being banned from attending press conferences conducted by Warisan leaders happened all the time since, to his knowledge, it was only on one or two occasions.

At the same time, he said everybody, including the Special Branch are welcomed to attend government and Warisan events.

“It is not about stopping people from coming to our events.”

He said press conferences were specific events held by the government and the party from time to time to inform public of government plans among others.

“There is nothing secret in a press conference. It is for public consumption” he quipped.

The Tanjung Aru assemblyman said that the issue was for those to admit their identities at events,” he said.

Junz also noted that genuine media practioners at times do not have space in alloted media tables at functions as their places are taken by Special Branch 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 practioners end up standing or leaving the function, ” he said.

Junz said that if such personnel came and  informed government or party officials of their presence , such embarassment could be avoided as specific space can be alloted for them.

An Special Branch officer claimed that he and his colleagues had been barred numerous times from Warisan press conferences, including events that featured  Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador on Monday said that Special Branch officers are meant to safeguard the security, irregardless of political affiliations.

“The police officers, who were there on duty, are not enemies of any party.

“The objective of their duties, whether they are clad in a uniform or plain-clothed, is to ensure the peace and security of a premises or event,” Abdul Hamid said.