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Feb 5, 2008

Gerakan leader: release Hindraf 5

Malaysiakini - A Gerakan leader today urged Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to free the Hindraf 5 from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention and allow them to contest in the coming elections. Gerakan Federal Territory assistant secretary KK Supramaniam said he has sent a letter to the prime minister to explain why he has called for the release of the Hindraf 5.

This is the first break in ranks in the ruling coalition, with a leader of a member-party calling for the release of the five Hindraf leaders.

Explaining to Malaysiakini, Supramaniam said he does not believe that the Hindraf leaders have managed to garner support from everyone in the Indian community and the BN party will have no trouble “taking them on” in the coming elections.

“The voters will decide whatever is right or wrong and I believe that the voters will not be swayed by the Hindraf sentiment and continue to support BN,” stressed Supramaniam. It is not immediately clear if Supramaniam had the backing of his party in issuing the call.

His remarks today follow various news reports that DAP was contemplating fielding a Hindraf candidate in the Sungai Siput parliamentary constituency.

Sungai Siput has been the stronghold of MIC president and Works Minister S Samy Vellu but Hindraf - a movement alleged to have been founded in reaction to state marginalisation of the Indian Malaysian community - has shaken BN’s grip on the Indian-majority constituency.

Currently election law does not prohibit ISA detainees from standing for a general election. Many believe this will be held early next month.

DAP to offer seats

Member of Parliament for DAP M Kulasegaran when contacted said the issue is being discussed by the party leadership. Party leaders will meet with the five detainees tomorrow to discuss the matter.

“We will go to the Kamunting Detention Camp and meet the five to offer them positions to contest under our party banner. Where they will contest has not been decided. We just have to wait and see what they think about it,” he said (photo).

Apart from urging the government to release the Hindraf 5, Supramaniam also wanted the abolition of the ISA and replace it with the Terrorism Act. Gerakan has long called for repeal of the ISA which allows for detention without trial.

“The ISA is currently being used randomly on civilians as well as politicians. This is the 21st century (and) the bloggers have been attacking us (and it will make us look bad),” he said.

Supramaniam believes that the Terrorism Act will be more apt to safeguard national security as the law will only punish those with real capabily (armed groups) to undermine security.

As for civilians and politicians, Supramaniam argued that if they are found to have broken the law, they should only be punished under criminal laws.

Supramaniam also made news recently when his letter to the Gerakan leadership on apparent nepotism in the party was leaked to the media by DAP.

He hit out at the DAP for "unethically" publicising the internal circular.

"This was meant for internal circulation only. Their actions have embarrassed me," said Supramaniam, adding that he is considering suing the DAP over the matter.

"I write this type of letter very often. This is a democratic process in the party. My intention is to self regulate (party affairs)," he added.

Anwar’s role in temple demolitions

The Gerakan leader also accused PKR’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim of being instrumental in demolishing Hindu temples with complete disregard towards the community’s sensitivity while he was the deputy prime minister.

“All of a sudden Anwar has become the champion of the Indian community when it comes to the issue of temple demolitions. I dare him to disclose what he did for the community when he was the DPM,” challenged Supramaniam.

“The voters are not stupid. I believe they will make the right choice by voting for BN in the elections.”

Supramaniam’s remarks on Hindraf today followed a controversial statement made by the party’s Youth vice-chief S Paranjothy who accused Umno of inciting racial sentiments.

Paranjothy has been referred to the party’s disciplinary committee for apparently supporting claims by Hindraf that Umno policies had resulted in marginalisation of Indian Malaysians.


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