KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - The national police chief said he
was conducting ``a different kind of press
conference'' on Thursday. He was right. Faced with pointed questions
about the whereabouts of former deputy prime minister
Anwar Ibrahim, detained Sunday under a national security law,
the inspector-general of police got tough. Abdul Rahim Noor
shouted at the British reporter from The Observer to ``shut up''
and suggested he be removed from the news conference.
Rahim evaded answering numerous questions and finally he refused
to answer the international press, whom he accused of
writing unfair reports about Malaysia's recent political turmoil.
Anwar, fired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad Sept 2,
has not been seen or heard by his family or lawyers since masked
police broke down his front door and led him away Sunday
night. Rahim said Anwar is ``safe and sound'' and ``would be
given a fair trial, very much like the British system.'' Malaysia
gained independence from Britain in 1957 and its legal system
is still based on British Common Law. John Sweeney, a
London-based reporter with The Observer newspaper, asked the
police chief to explain how British Common Law would
permit the man who was once deputy prime minister to simply disappear
in police custody. ``I think you can come to my
room!'' Rahim shouted at Sweeney, and gestured to an officer
seated nearby. ``Please arrange him to come to my room.''
When Sweeney attempted to ask more questions, Rahim lashed out.
``You shut up! You come from where?'' he asked.
``Enough from you!'' ``Enough from the foreign press,'' he said.
Very few local journalists had tried to ask questions.
Sweeney blurted out: ``You don't seem to understand the rules
of a press conference.'' ``This is a different kind of press
conference,'' Rahim replied, threatening to have a policeman
show Sweeney the door. ``I can be tough you know.'' At one
point, a plainclothes policeman grabbed Sweeney's arm. Rahim
denied that he was intimidating the reporter and backed down
when other reporters asked if they could accompany Sweeney to
the police chief's ``room.'' It was unclear why Rahim called
the snap press conference, if not to warn the international news
media in some way. He began the meeting by accusing the
foreign press of exaggerating the demonstration where more than
35,000 people gathered in the capital's main Merdeka
Square on Sunday. He said international news reporters wanted
riots like the May violence in Indonesia that led to the
downfall of former President Suharto. On Wednesday, the government
issued restrictions blocking foreign news broadcasting
agencies from transmitting footage that shows Malaysia in a negative