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Mar 30, 2008

Malaysian opposition slams government's refusal to free Indian lawmaker

The Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A Malaysian opposition party on Saturday condemned the government's refusal to release an ethnic Indian activist elected as a state legislator while in jail.

M.Manoharan — a leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf — was arrested shortly after his group organized a rally in November in which 20,000 Indians protested alleged government discrimination. He has been held since December under Malaysia's Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

While behind bars, he contested the March 8 election as a member of the Democratic Action Party and won a seat in the Selangor state legislature.

Despite Manoharan's win, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the government cannot free him because he is still a security threat, The Star newspaper reported Saturday.

Calls to Syed Hamid and his aides went unanswered Saturday.

Lim Kit Siang, who heads the opposition Democratic Action Party slammed the government's decision.

"It shows that the Cabinet is not really listening to the people's voice for change toward a more democratic, accountable, just and more progressive Malaysian society," Lim told The Associated Press.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's ruling National Front coalition retained power in the March election, but suffered the worst losses in its 51-year rule.


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