Indian politician takes on royalty, gets death threat

May 1st, 2008 - 10:55 am ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 1 (IANS) Malaysian Indian politician Karpal Singh has received a death threat and has been accused of sedition for criticising a member of the country’s royalty who said that ethnic minorities should not resent the special privileges given to majority Malays. The royal constitutional head of the Kelantan state, Mahkota Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra, in his address to the state assembly, had said that non-Malay minorities who had received Malaysian citizenship since the country became free in 1957 should not resent the fact that Malays are given special privileges. Malays constitute about 60 percent of the population of 27 million.

Singh, a senior lawmaker and chief of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), had said that this was against the country’s constitution, which guaranteed rights to ethnic minorities.

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the principal party of the Malays in the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), has disapproved of Singh’s criticism. Its information chief Mohamad Alwi Che Ahmad has called Singh’s remarks ’seditious’.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Singh said: “The royalty no more has immunity from being charged in court as there was a special court created in 1993 to try them. But if the royals want to delve in politics, then they should be prepared to be criticised.”

Singh’s observation caused a 17-year-old boy to post a death threat to him on the website of the Pan Malaysian Islamic party (PAS). A threat of this kind is a punishable offence, The Sun newspaper said.

The boy surrendered Tuesday. He and the PAS, an alliance partner of DAP, apologised to Singh.

Singh Wednesday wrote to the attorney general’s office to spare the boy and withdraw charges against him.

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