Malaysian party seeks Hindu Rights leaders’ release

April 4th, 2008 - 3:52 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 4 (IANS) Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian People’s Movement Party), a liberal party with predominant Chinese support that is part of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), has joined the appeal for the release of five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders. Gerakan National Legal Bureau chief Chang Ko Youn said the detention of the five leaders created “unnecessary tension and unhappiness, especially among advocates of democracy and human rights”, The Star newspaper said Friday.

Chang spoke on the day Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) chief S. Samy Vellu met Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to formally seek release of the five leaders who have been detained for two years under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

“We are seriously against any act that prescribes detention without trial, such as the ISA and Emergency Ordinance, as they are against the cardinal principles and law, that is each person is entitled to a fair trial and right to be heard,” said Chang.

When the five were detained last December, he said, Gerakan had voiced its concern over the repercussions.

“True enough, it was an issue during the March general election and voters turned against us partly because of the use of the ISA against the five Hindraf leaders,” Chang said.

Vellu, who was minister in the government till he lost last month’s election, told media after meeting Albar that he had made the “request” and had left it to the minister to take a decision “at an appropriate time”.

Albar told him that this was a policy matter and would require a decision by the cabinet.

Vellu earlier said he would meet Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

On Thursday, however, he said: “Syed Hamid is the Home Minister and this matter is in his hands and not with the Prime Minister.”

Samy Vellu said he had also raised the issue of 500 priests from India who had been unable to extend their work permits to continue operating in the temples in the country.

The government is contesting the release bid in the Federal Court where M. Manoharan, P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kengadharan, and K. Vasantha Kumar are appealing against the High Court’s decision of Feb 26 to dismiss their applications for a writ of habeas corpus.

Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail told the apex court the five had been detained because the government had found that the five had organized a protest rally Nov 25 last year, a threat to the country’s internal security.

Patail said the government acted after police investigations showed that the Hindraf movement had “incited racial sentiments and hatred” towards the government.

“Looking at the matter objectively, one cannot say that the minister went on a frolic on his own,” he said, urging the court to dismiss defence counsel Karpal Singh’s submission as “mere baseless conjecture”.

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