KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - With the lurking threat of militant attacks and the ongoing conflict in Marawi in the southern Philippines adding to security concerns, Malaysia will deploy more than 40,000 policemen during the Hari Raya festive period.
This is more than the number of personnel on active duty during Hari Raya last year, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said, with the force imposing a freeze on leave.
Last year, only 10 per cent of the force were allowed to go on festive leave.
"All 8,000 traffic policemen will be on duty along with a large part of the General Operations Force.
Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox
"This does not include those working in all the police stations in the country," Tan Sri Khalid told a press conference at Bukit Aman on Thursday (June 8) after handing over 3,864 Hari Raya packages to police personnel who will be on duty during the festive season.
Mr Khalid said the move was necessary as police needed to stay vigilant against possible threats to the country.
"IS (ISIS) thinks that Ramadan is a good month for them to carry out their so-called jihad attacks, so we must be alert," he said, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group.
"We also have to keep an eye on our borders like in Sabah, where militants involved in Marawi might try to enter Malaysia," he added.
Mr Khalid added that the force was looking to upgrade its counter-terrorism operations to better cope with present threats.
"We are looking to give them more autonomy. It is something we regularly discuss in our meetings with the Home Ministry," he said.
On reports that three Hamas operatives were hiding in the country, he said: "What is the problem with them coming into Malaysia? As long as they are peaceful and obey the law, I don't see an issue.
"They can come here as tourists or have business meetings. This is a free country."