Malaysian king orders Hindraf leaders to complete jail termApril 25th, 2008 - 10:43 am ICT by admin
Kuala Lumpur, April 25 (IANS) The five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders, detained under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA), will complete serving their two-year term as ordered by the king of Malaysia. The king’s letters, sent separately to the five, shut out any prospects of their early freedom.
Lawyer-lawmaker Karpal Singh, who represents them in court trials, said Thursday that the king’s decree was contained in a letter dated April 16 addressed to one of the five - lawyer Ganabatirau Veeraman, by the Home Ministry’s Security and Public Order Division Officer Mohamad Irza Dahari.
“The other detainees, have received similar letters,” Singh said in a statement.
The letter said the Prime Minister’s Advisory Board had forwarded its recommendation to the king who issued the order on March 26, following an appeal by the five, the New Straits Times said Friday.
Besides Ganabatirau, lawyers Uthayakumar Ponnusamy, 46, Manoharan Malayalam, 46, and Kengadharan Ramasamy, 40, and ex-bank executive Vasantha Kumar Krishnan, 34 were detained after they organized a protest rally Nov 25, 2007.
The rally of estimated 10,000 was forcibly dispersed by police using water cannons.
Of the five, Uthayakumar, a diabetic, has complained of not receiving proper medicines while in jail. Manoharan was elected to a state legislature last month. He has refused to take oath in jail.
Several appeals have been made for their release from human rights bodies and different political quarters, both from the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR), besides social and human rights bodies.
Singh’s announcement came even as a leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a constituent of the BN that has traditionally spoken for Malaysia’s 2.6 million ethnic Indians, sought freedom for the five detainees.
Adding to the effort of MIC chief, S. Samy Vellu, who had met Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar earlier this month to seek release of the Hindraf-5, the party’s youth chief S.A. Vigneswaran Thursday asked the government to “explain” how the detainees posed a threat to national security.
Responding to appeals for release, Albar said the government would go by “national interests” and not by “sentiments” in deciding the issue. The government has said it is investigating the “terror links” of the five, allegedly with Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Action against the Hindraf disenchanted the two million Tamil Hindus during the last month’s elections. According to a post-poll analysis, 69 percent of ethnic Indian vote swung against the BN and favoured the emergence of a strong opposition.