KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's police chief defended himself on Wednesday (March 13) for deporting five Egyptians on suspicion of being militants who supported the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, after senior Malaysian lawmaker Anwar Ibrahim questioned the decision.
Inspector General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said Malaysia's security was at risk and the police were merely carrying out instructions from the deputy public prosecutor (DPP), an official from the Attorney-General's office.
"We received orders from DPP to deport them, so we immediately had to get things going as this is a serious threat to the country," Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi told reporters after officiating at an event, as quoted by Malay Mail news site.
"Some of them entered using fake passport. So don't tell me we need to tolerate such an obvious crime, while jeopardising the country's security?" he said.
He added: "We don't want these foreign fighters to make our country a safe haven to carry out attacks. We have the info on that that's why we took drastic action."
Mr Mohamad Fuzi had issued a statement on Sunday saying the five men were among seven foreigners who were recently deported after being arrested last month (February) in a series of raids.
Two of them, including a Tunisian and another Egyptian, were said to be members of Ansar Al-Sharia Al-Tunisia, a North African-based organisation listed as a terrorist group by the United Nations.
The five Egyptians, the police chief said, confessed to being supporters of Ikhwanul Muslimin or Muslim Brotherhood, an Egypt-based Islamist group banned in Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Datuk Seri Anwar, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat - the party with the most number of MPs in the Malaysian Parliament - had said that his checks found the police deported the men without consulting relevant ministers or Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Mr Anwar, who has made comments supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood in the past, said Malaysia must not depend on claims by foreign intelligence agencies and be wary of countries that do not follow due process of the law.
He was aluding to comments by rights groups that fear the men deported to Egypt would be tortured as the group is branded a terrorist organisation in the country.
Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, deputy president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which supports the Muslim Brotherhood, also railed against the Malaysian government for the deportation of Egyptians whom he said were believed to be "opposition political activists".
Malaysia's decision to deport the Egyptians contrasted with its decision to send 11 Uighur men to Turkey in October last year (2018), though China demanded their return. The group had escaped jail in Thailand to enter Malaysia.
Malaysia had said then that there were fears they could face torture in China.