Samy Vellu wants Hindraf men released

March 31st, 2008 - 4:18 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, March 31 (IANS) Malaysian Indian Congress chief S. Samy Vellu, who was defeated in this month’s elections, has sought the immediate release of the five detained leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), the body he had dismissed earlier. Vellu, who had been a minister for long, said he would meet Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to seek the release of the five Hindraf leaders detained under the Internal Security Act.

R. Kengadharan, one of the five, is seriously ill and M. Manoharan is now an elected lawmaker, winning the Kota Alam Shah seat in Selangor state, Vellu pointed out.

Also, V. Ganabatirau, 34, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34, had not been really involved in the Nov 25 protest rally, he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times Monday.

Vellu stressed that he was doing this out of “fairness” and was not seeking publicity or to win back the support of ethnic Indians.

He had earlier been critical of Hindraf, which claims to speak for the Tamil Hindus who form the bulk of the ethnic Indian population. The group courted controversy when it organised a protest rally that was forcibly dispersed last November.

Vellu, 72, who lost his parliamentary seat in the ninth bid at re-election, declared: “I am still very alive, I am not dead. I’m alive! I’m a workaholic and I will work for the community all the time.”

He wants to “rebrand” the Malaysian Indian Congress that he continues to lead, and announced “an agenda” and “a roadshow” to rejuvenate the party that has spoken for the 2.5 million ethnic Indians since Malaysia’s independence in 1957.

The party lost 16 seats and could send only three members to parliament.

According to a study published Sunday, 69 percent of ethnic Indians, who form eight percent of the Malaysian population, voted for the opposition, giving it an unprecedented 82 seats in parliament and control of five states.

He said that though the party had received harsh criticism from certain quarters for failing to safeguard the welfare of Indians in the country, it would continue to do what it could on matters concerning the community, The Sun newspaper reported.

When told that the detention of the five men had sparked a furore in the Indian community, resulting in the lack of support for the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, particularly the MIC in the elections, he said: “The real source of this is poverty, difficulties in obtaining loans, in getting placing in (public) universities. All of these reasons are correct. These are the issues against us.”

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