Hindraf banned for exploiting Malaysian Indian community

October 16th, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

HindrafKuala Lumpur, Oct 16 (IANS) The Malaysian government has banned the Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), which claims to speak for the country’s two million-plus ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamil Hindus, for exploiting the Indian community and posing a threat to public order.The ban came Wednesday, precisely a year after the body sought registration from the Registrar of Societies.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar announced the ban saying that Hindraf had actively exploited the Indian community to organize illegal assemblies and street demonstrations without permits to the point of causing a segment of the community to rise up against the government and also hatred among the Malays and Indians in the country.

While majority Muslim Malays are over 60 percent, the Chinese are 33 percent and Indians about eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

The government invoked Section 5 (1) of the Societies Act to declare it an illegal organization.

Albar said the decision was taken as a result of the monitoring and investigation on the organization’s activities by the Registrar of Societies and the Home Ministry.

If left unchecked, Albar said, “Hindraf would continue to pose a threat to public order, the security and sovereignty of the country as well as the prevailing racial harmony.”

It has been in the eye of the storm since it organised a protest rally Nov 15 to highlight the perceived discrimination of the Indians in jobs and education. Joined by 10,000 people, it was dispersed by police using water cannons and declared illegal.

Five of the organisers - M. Manoharan, S. Kengadharan, Ganabatirau, P. Uthaya Kumar and Vasantha Kumar - have been detained since under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA), serving two-year terms.

While the detainees and their families have challenged the detention, the government got a royal decree to confirm their detention earlier this year.

Albar said in a statement that the government decided to declare Hindraf illegal after the ministry was satisfied with facts and evidence that showed Hindraf was being used for unlawful purposes and posed a threat to public order and morality.

The government did not take kindly to Hindraf’s stance alleging that it was trying to disturb the delicate ethnic balance and had “terror links”, especially with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka.

The latter charge, though not reinforced, has been a prime mover in the government’s attitude towards Hindraf, in disregarding appeals from human rights bodies and also from members of the ruling alliance Barisan Nasional (BN), especially the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), to release the give detainees.

While the government detained the five people, Hindraf chief, P. Waithyamurthy slipped out and visited many countries to canvas support for the organisation’s cause. He is now in self-exile in Britain.

The latest incident that angered the government took place at Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi’s Open House on Eid earlier this month, called Hari Raya.

About 165 Hindraf activists arrived at the function. Waithyamurthy’s daughter presented a teddy bear to Badawi, while his wife K. Santhi gave him a card that demanded freedom for the five.

According to reports, the activists voiced their demand for freedom and for repeal of the ISA before leaving, without shaking hands with the Muslim cabinet ministers who were playing the hosts along with Badawi.

The incident caused an adverse reaction in public and the media and Badawi himself said that he was “disappointed” by the Hindraf behaviour.

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