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M'sian home minister defends 'shoot first, ask later' policy
Publication Date : 12-10-2013
Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has defended his tough anti-crime "shoot first, ask later" stand, saying it was based on the principles of universal humanitarianism.
In a 20-minute interview with Malaysian news channel Astro Awani on Thursday, Zahid said the humanitarianism was aimed at safeguarding the rights of both civilians and policemen who are victims of violence.
"Shootings every day, murders almost every week. This needs to be dealt with," Zahid said in his first interview since endorsing a "shoot first" policy last week to prevent crime.
"If I don't do something, not only will the public question my credibility, but on Judgment Day, Allah will question me," he said, according to a report on The Malaysian Insider website.
The minister has been under fire for saying last week at a meeting that criminals should be shot without a warning. The meeting was to discuss security issues after a recent spike in violent crimes in Malaysia.
"There is no need to give criminals any warning. If we get the evidence, we shoot first," he was quoted as saying in an audio recording.
His comments came just days after Malaysia's Parliament approved an amendment to a crime prevention law that allows the authorities to hold suspects without trial for an initial two-year period, which can be extended indefinitely without charging the suspects.
The comments have led to a furore among Malaysians, as opposition and rights groups demanded Zahid be sacked.
A government spokesman on Wednesday sought to play down the growing outrage, saying Zahid's comments "appear to have been misconstrued".
In the interview with Astro, Zahid said his remarks were specifically targeted at an incident in August when police gunned down members of a criminal gang while they were allegedly sleeping in a condominium in Penang.
He also dared the Malaysian Bar Council to slap charges of sedition against him, after the council said his remarks may have breached the Sedition Act.
*with reports from Astro Awani and The Malaysian Insider