Malaysia police awaiting nod to charge vigilante group members

PETALING JAYA - Police are awaiting the nod from the Attorney-General's Chambers to charge members of a consumer rights group who were arrested on the grounds of being a vigilante organisation.

The Selangor branch of the Persatuan Pelindungan Pengguna Malaysia (PPPM) drew the ire of the authorities after the self-proclaimed "crime prevention" group was caught patrolling streets here in cars and uniforms similar to the police.

Some 20 members of the brigade were said to have been seen making rounds in two Proton Wira and a Perodua Kembara, that were outfitted with beacon lights, and featured a logo and checkered stripes similar to that of police vehicles.

Petaling Jaya OCPD ACP Azmi Abu Kassim said the group dressed in attire similar to the police and also went by an identical ranking system, with some identifying themselves as "constables" and "chief inspectors" without any real enforcement background.

"They claimed that they started patrolling around neighbourhoods here on the morning of Nov 17 and we picked up two of them in the cars that same evening.

"When we questioned them, they claimed they were out there to assist members of the public facing difficulties related to consumer rights.

"But why did they have to appear like cops?" he asked, adding that those detained said they did not interact with the public during their rounds.

A source told The Star that investigators believed the brigade was playing cops as a means of appearing like an authoritative enforcement agency to coerce money from prospective members.

"They want to appear like an authoritative figure so more people would join them and they can use this as a means to solicit more money for memberships and higher ranks in their so-called brigade," said the source.

Selangor police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Samah Mat said police confiscated the group's vehicles and interrogated members of the brigade and PPPM, including Datuk Mohd Firdaus Abdullah, the society's president.

"We have already submitted our investigation papers to the Deputy Public Prosecutor and recommended that action be taken against members of the brigade and office bearers of PPPM. We are still awaiting their decision.

"This should serve as a reminder to any organisation that it is an offence to fashion themselves like the police," SDCP Abdul Samah said.