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Thursday, Sept 24
Police chief threatens British reporter at news conference
by JOCELYN GECKER (Associated Press)

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 light.