Police will not hesitate to shoot criminals first and ask questions later, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly said in his speech at a function at the Malacca International Trade Centre on Friday.
He was quoted as saying this at a security briefing with community leaders (Majlis Taklimat Keselamatan Bersama Pemimpin Masyarakat), which then became a platform for him to "speak on sensitive issues", reported the Oriental Daily.
Malaysiakini reported that journalists were told to leave towards the end of the event, with warnings by the minister not to report what he had said.
The news portal, however, obtained a 20-minute recording of the speech from an assemblyman in Malacca.
The recording showed Ahmad Zahid saying that 28,000 of the 40,000 gang members identified are of Indian ethnicity, and that there was nothing wrong in detaining them.
"What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? Most of them are Malays. Most of them are our race.
"I think the best way is that we no longer compromise with them. There is no need to give them any more warning. If we get the evidence, we shoot first," he added.
The minister took a swipe at Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P. Waythamoorthy who had previously criticised the police for the shooting of five suspected gangsters in Penang two months ago.
"There is a deputy minister who disputed me and the police. He asked why there were no warning shots first before shooting," he told those present.
Without naming Waythamoorthy, who is the former leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), Zahid pointed out that he had called on him to resign from his post if he did not agree with the government's decision. His words were met with cheers.
Zahid was also reported to have revealed that the amendments of the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) were his own idea.
"We investigate, we take it to the courts. If there is no evidence, if there is not enough evidence, at least there is still two years’ detention. That is my new law, there is no compromise.
"The Internal Security Act has been repealed, the Emergency Ordinance has been repealed, the Restricted Residence Act has been repealed, but they (the opposition) did not notice the PCA 1959, they did not notice it.
"I discussed with the Inspector-General of Police. I discussed with the ministry's legal adviser, I said this can be used," he said.
The revised PCA allows for detention without trial for up to two years. It can be extended after the two years have passed.
The amendments were passed in Parliament last week after it obtained the approval of 115 Barisan Nasional MPs. – October 7, 2013.