IGP: No problem arming religious guards

(MM) – The police has no problems with issuing firearm licenses to Islamic enforcement officers, provided they are frequently faced with life-threatening risks, said Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Malay-language daily Berita Harian quoted the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) as saying that the police are currently studying the applications for firearm licenses by Islamic enforcement officers in each state, whose lives are often at danger.

“Whether the applicant is a religious enforcement officer or the general public, anyone can apply for the license, but they must have a good reason, like their lives being endangered frequently,” Khalid was quoted as saying yesterday.

The police chief was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, who reportedly called for religious enforcement officers to be armed, following the fatal shooting of Pahang Islamic Religious Department (Jaip) chief Ahmad Rafli Abdul Malek at home recently.

Terengganu has gone ahead and armed its Islamic enforcement officers, urging other states to follow suit.

Last week, the police urged members of the “Tuhan Harun” religious sect to surrender over Rafli’s shooting, which has been linked to the state’s ban on Shiah adherents.

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers have criticised the proposal to arm Islamic enforcement officers, calling it an overreaction that would exacerbate Malaysia’s struggle with gun violence.

Shootings and gun murders exploded into the nation’s consciousness in August when Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi was assassinated in broad daylight by a gunman in Kuala Lumpur, just days after the chairman of crime watchdog MyWatch, R. Sri Sanjeevan, survived an attempted hit in Negri Sembilan on July 27.

A string of shootings have since occurred throughout the country and were reported almost on a daily basis for a period of time.