Malaysian opposition leader Lim Guan Eng accuses police of double standards in church protest

KUALA LUMPUR - Democratic Action Party (DAP) leader Lim Guan Eng on Thursday accused Malaysia police of having double standards in their handling of the Taman Medan cross protest, saying not a single protestor has been arrested or held overnight for questioning, unlike how the opposition and journalists were treated during their probe.

The DAP secretary-general also alleged that "special treatment" was given to Datuk Abdullah Abu Bakar, the Umno branch chief who was questioned on Wednesday over his role in the protest, Malay Mail Online reported on Thursday.

Abdullah is the brother of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

"By refusing to arrest, handcuff and put Abdullah under police remand, the police have shown special treatment and double standards.

"Is this due to the fact that Abdullah is the brother of the IGP?" Mr Lim was quoted as saying.

During the protest on Sunday, about 50 Malay-Muslim residents of Taman Medan urged a newly-opened church to take down the cross, claiming that it posed a challenge to Muslims in the area and could influence youths.

But critics said the protest was politically motivated, pointing to the involvement of Abdullah, a local Umno branch chief.

Prime Minister Najib Razak and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi have mentioned the possibility of using the Sedition Act on the protestors if they are found guilty of wrongdoing.

Last month, the police arrested four journalists from The Malaysian Insider (TMI) news portal and The Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat over a report in TMI claiming that the Conference of Rulers had rejected proposed legal amendments that would allow hudud to be enforced in Kelantan.

The four journalists and Ho were all held overnight to assist in investigations under the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act.

"Why are the Taman Medan church protesters and the brother of the IGP not arrested, handcuffed and put under remand, similar to what is suffered by PR (Pakatan Rakyat) leaders and Malaysian Insider journalists?" Malay Mail quoted Lim as saying.

The DAP leader called on IGP Khalid to let his deputy take over while the cross protest is being probed.

"How can the public confidence lost be regained when the impression given is that instead of upholding the law, the IGP appears to be more interested in protecting his own brother?

"His initial act of immediately clearing his brother of any wrongdoing by leading the barbaric and extremist protests, shows the urgency and necessity of stepping down as IGP temporarily until investigations are completed," he said.

The protest was at least the second case against a church in a predominantly Muslim area in Selangor since last November.

It came after the courts last year ruled against non-Muslims in a longstanding dispute over whether they can use the word "Allah" to refer to God. The dispute led to 351 Malay-language Bibles being seized in the opposition-held state in January last year.