Mahathir calls Samy Vellu ‘racist’ for supporting Hindraf

June 20th, 2008 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 20 (IANS) Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has called ethnic Indian leader and his long-time cabinet colleague S. Samy Vellu “racist” for demanding the release of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders jailed for organising an illegal protest rally last year. Vellu had last week alleged that Mahathir had “let down” the Indian community and had discriminated against it, ignoring cautions and pleas.

Mahathir hit back saying Vellu had “exposed his own deep racist sentiments” by sympathising with the Hindraf, which claims to speak for the country’s over two million Tamil Hindus.

Mahathir wrote on his blog that by calling for the release of Hindraf leaders, Vellu was supporting a group that represented “racist Tamils who still looked to their old masters - the British - to protect them and didn’t believe in Malaysian institutions”, The Star newspaper reported Friday.

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 on Nov 25, 2007 alleging discrimination against the two million-plus Tamil Hindus in jobs and education. They also alleged that over 35,000 Hindu shrines had been demolished in the last five decades.

“They (Hindraf leaders) speak not just of Indians, but of Tamils as a separate race. They and their apologists are racist to the core. Seeing the death and destruction inflicted on Sri Lanka by the Tamil Tigers, they threaten to bring this kind of violent racial politics to Malaysia,” Mahathir said.

The government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has alleged before court that Hindraf has “terror links” with Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to justify the detention of the five leaders of the group.

“Vellu insisted that he was the only leader of Indians … He refused to allow other Indian political parties to join the Barisan Nasional (the ruling coalition). His arrogance was unbearable. The defeat of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) is entirely because of him,” Mahathir wrote in his blog.

“I will follow this with extracts of what Vellu said when I was prime minister. You can then judge what kind of Indian the Indians have as their leader,” he added.

Mahathir, who quit office in December 2003, has been using his blog to respond to various allegations made against him. He has also used the forum to battle his long-time critic and another Indian origin leader, Karpal Singh, whom he had jailed two decades ago.

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