Hindraf ‘disappoints’ Malaysian PM on Hari Raya

October 7th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 7 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is “disappointed” that members of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) came to his Hari Raya, as Eid is called in this part of the world, open house mainly to raise slogans demanding freedom for their detained leaders. “No Raya wishes at all. Instead, they were saying things like ‘Hapuskan ISA (abolish ISA)’ and ‘Lepaskan Hindraf (release Hindraf detainees)’. I was very disappointed,” he said five days after the event.

The Hindraf has been agitating for freedom for five of its leaders — M. Manoharan, S. Kengadharan, Ganabatirau, Vasanth Kumar and P. Uthaya Kumar — who have been detained for two years under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

About 165 Hindraf activists and their family members came to Badawi’s open house; a young girl even presented the prime minister with a teddy bear.

K. Shanti, the wife of Hindraf leader-in-exile P. Waythamoorthy, gave Badawi a card asking him to release the organisation’s leaders detained under the ISA.

“Our open house is for everyone and we do not stop anyone from attending,” The Star newspaper quoted Badawi as saying Monday.

He said apart from the morning prayers, the festivities had become a national celebration.

“We have thousands of guests and usually there are no problems. But this one has created a lot of unhappiness,” Badawi said.

There have been renewed demands from the hardliners among the majority Malay for a ban on Hindraf.

“We don’t want to be discriminated against, we don’t want to be forgotten and left out,” said R.S. Thanenthiran, a Hindraf leader who organised a large anti-ISA protest in Pudu last month.

“We are only asking for recognition, help and a fair share.”

The five Hindraf leaders in custody had staged a protest rally here last November, joined by 10,000 people, to highlight the perceived grievances of the 2.6 million ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamil Hindus, in jobs and education. They also complained of their temples being demolished or forcibly shifted.

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