Vellu voicing Indian community’s concerns, not racist: colleagueJune 22nd, 2008 - 2:23 pm ICT by IANS
Kuala Lumpur, June 22 (IANS) An Indian origin Malaysian minister has come out in support of ethnic Indian leader S. Samy Vellu over allegations that he was being “racist” for demanding the release of jailed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders. Human Resources Development Minister S. Subramaniam Saturday strongly defended his party colleague Vellu, president of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), whom former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed called “racist” for seeking the release of Hindraf leaders.
Said Subramaniam, a former MIC deputy president: “I don’t agree that Samy Vellu is a racist because as the representative of the Indians, he has to speak for them primarily.
“Sometimes, I too sound racist, but we have to voice the problems of the community and how the government has to tackle their problems.”
Subramaniam was commenting on Mahathir’s statement in his blog, chedet.com, where he called Vellu a racist for sympathising with Hindraf, a body that claims to speak for Malaysia’s two million-plus Tamil Hindu settlers.
Five Hindraf leaders - M. Manoharan, P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kengadharan and K. Vasantha Kumar - are serving two-year jail terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA) after they organised a protest rally Nov 25, 2007 alleging discrimination against the Tamil Hindus in jobs and education. They also alleged that over 35,000 Hindu shrines had been demolished in the last five decades.
“I urge him (Mahathir) to be kind enough to spare the MIC. In the current situation, it is important not to launch any serious attack,” the minister was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times.
Instead, Mahathir was welcome to give his views on how to strengthen the MIC, he added.
MIC is a constituent of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional that Mahathir headed for many years when he was also the country’s prime minister.
Mahathir has been widely criticised by leaders of the Chinese and Indian communities for writing on his blog that the majority Malays had been sacrificed to accommodate the ethnic minorities.
While the Chinese form 33 percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population, Indians comprise eight percent.
Vellu had then accused Mahathir of “letting down Indians”.
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