Malaysia

No sign of PAS’ Unit Amal, GHB’s volunteers to help with crowd control at Bersih 4

At previous Bersih rallies, PAS’s volunteer corp Unit Amal managed the crowd and ensured security. The PAS leadership has been non-committal about this weekend's rally. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 23, 2015.At previous Bersih rallies, PAS’s volunteer corp Unit Amal managed the crowd and ensured security. The PAS leadership has been non-committal about this weekend's rally. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 23, 2015.Gerakan Harapan Baru's (GHB or New Hope Movement) volunteer corp – Amal Relief (ARiF) – is set to take over the role of PAS's Unit Amal to ensure security and manage the crowd during the Bersih 4 rally this weekend.

The Islamist party's top leadership has been reticent about supporting the rally, to be held from August 29 to 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, with the aim of pressuring the government to embark on institutional reforms.

Traditionally, PAS has provided support with its Unit Amal, which played a vital role in helping to keep order and security in past rallies.

Pledging 500 volunteers, ARiF has assured that it would be able to manage the task despite being a relatively new outfit formed in July after GHB's establishment.

Its chief secretary, Baharuddin Abu Kassim, said ARiF was essentially GHB's version of Unit Amal.

He said its members were from the PAS' volunteer corp, who recently relinquished their positions in the Islamist party to join the new movement.

Unit Amal's former director, Johari Osman, is now head of ARiF Malaysia.

"The majority of ARiF members are from the old outfit (Unit Amal), so in terms of expertise, they have it. It is just that right now, we are focusing on relief, rescue and rehabilitation efforts,” Baharuddin said.

As for the upcoming Bersih 4 rally, he said ARiF was more than ready to be mobilised when needed.

“We will be wearing orange T-shirts with black sleeves. We are ready to help and facilitate just as in the previous rallies... We have the experience,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

It was reported that Bersih 2.0 was planning to mobilise about 2,000 volunteers to ensure security and manage the participants after Unit Amal has yet to confirm its attendance.

Baharuddin said ARiF would complement the volunteers from the organisers, NGOs and participating political parties.

ARiF, Baharuddin said, had placed its committees on standby in Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Sabah.

Currently, he said ARiF has more than 200 members and volunteers were also encouraged to sign up as Sahabat ARiF, which comes without GHB membership.

Unit Amal was formed 23 years ago under PAS’s Youth wing. Previously known as the boys in red, who directed traffic and security during PAS and Pakatan Rakyat events, the welfare unit had over the past few years become the party’s energising force.

PAS had said no member has been prevented from joining the Bersih 4 rally.

Its vice-president, Datuk Iskandar Abdul Samad, had said claims the Islamist party was not supporting the rally was not true. – August 23, 2015.

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