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Dec 14, 2007

Malaysian PM warns ethnic Indians of tough action

source: news.hinduworld.com

Kuala Lumpur, December 14:
Defending the decision to invoke a draconian security law against ethnic-Indian leaders, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said their actions "could be deemed as treachery" while an opposition party said it will challenge the move in court.

Abdullah said Hindu Rights Action Force’s (Hindraf) allegations of "ethnic cleansing" and marginalisation of ethnic-Indians in Malaysia had hurt the country's image and could seriously impair efforts to attract investors and tourists.

"These actions could be deemed as treachery," he was quoted as saying by media here after signing the detention orders for five Hindraf leaders under the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows detention without trial.

"Yes, I have signed the detention orders and there is nothing more to explain," Abdullah said. "When I feel the situation warrants it, I just sign," he said after a close-door meeting with Brisan Nasional leaders, declining to reveal if more people would be detained.

However, police said "others involved or having links with any terrorist organisation that could threaten or jeopardise national security will be picked up." Abdullah said the country's peace and security superseded the freedom of speech. "I value what is freedom, but law and order is more important and needs to be preserved."

The opposition party DAP said it will file a habeas corpus application to challenge the order detaining five Hindraf leaders under ISA.

"We will act immediately, in the interest of the public, and ensure no one is victimised," its chairman Karpal Singh was quoted as saying. Two of those detained, M. Manoharan and V. Ganabathirau, are DAP members.

"Under any circumstances, the use of the ISA should not be justified. If there is any evidence, the accused should be given opportunities to face trial in open court. The authorities have gone too far in invoking the ISA," Singh said.

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Malaysia did not need the sanction of others to use the ISA against those who posed a threat to the nation. Speaking at a special briefing for heads of foreign missions in Malaysia, Syed Hamid cautioned other countries from interfering in Malaysia's internal affairs and reminded some that the ISA was just like their own preventive laws.

Meanwhile, the High Court has adjourned till Monday the review proceedings challenging a lower court's decision to deny bail to 31 Hindraf supporters charged with attempt to murder for allegedly causing injury to a policeman during a protest on November 25.

The 31 men had been denied bail since they were charged in a sessions court here on Dec 6. In Johor Baru, Malaysian Indian Congress president and Minister of works Samy Vellu described the arrests of five Hindraf members as a timely move.

"It is necessary for the sake of maintaining peace and security in the country," he said, adding that the government had taken a bold move to arrest the leaders who were out to

jeopardise the country's security and show the world that the country was not peaceful.

The Malaysian police's crackdown on ethnic-Indians had prompted India to express concern over the issue while Hindraf appealed to New Delhi to use its influence with Kuala Lumpur. Ethnic-Indians comprise eight per cent of Malaysia's 27 million multi-racial population.

But Abdullah, while attacking the Hindraf leaders, said to run down the country "and plead for sympathy from foreign powers are tantamount to treason". He said Hindraf leaders were willing to see the country suffer to further their interests.

Abdullah reiterated the government's stand of providing equal opportunities for every Malaysian. "Anyone in this country can be successful as long as he works hard."

Admitting that the system of governance may at times be imperfect, he said continuous efforts were being made to improve it for the benefit of all Malaysians.

Abdullah said the government had no option but to act against any group resorting to unlawful means, such as street demonstrations, to air their grouses. "We will never accept street demonstrations as part of our culture.

"Malaysian society as a whole rejects street demonstrations and these have not in any way been able to change the government's policies." Abdullah said the people supported the government's action against demonstrators as they had caused hardship, particularly among the business community.


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