Malaysia police deny wanting to arrest Mahathir
MALAYSIA'S police chief denied yesterday that former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad would be arrested over his participation in the massive rally held two weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur or for the speeches he made there, following the return of the 90-year-old from abroad.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar instead said it was normal procedure to take down statements from those who had had reports made against them, reported news website Malaysian Insider.
"I never said we will arrest him. It's just that we had received reports from a few Umno (United Malays National Organisation) people that Tun (Mahathir), when giving a speech during Bersih, had allegedly said that party division leaders had received bribes," he told reporters yesterday.
Bersih is the rally organised by a coalition of non-government organisations with the same name on Aug 29 and 30 to call on Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign over allegations of corruption.
Last week, IGP Khalid said the police would record a statement from Dr Mahathir with an eye to charging him for defamation under Section 500 of the Penal Code, which carries a two-year jail term, a fine, or both upon conviction.
He had also said the probe was over Dr Mahathir's claim that division chiefs of the ruling Umno party received bribes.
Dr Mahathir has led calls for Mr Najib's resignation over alleged mismanagement and corruption at the indebted state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, reported Reuters.
Earlier yesterday, upon his return from a private trip to the Czech Republic, Dr Mahathir told about 100 supporters at the Subang Airport that the police were welcome to arrest him over his participation at the rally.
"It's their right... arrest (me). What is there to cooperate?" he said.
"If the police call you up for questioning, you must go, that is the way here in Malaysia," he added.
Asked if the red shirt rally planned for Sept 16 as a counter protest to the Bersih should proceed, Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister said there was no need for it.