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Hindraf still under investigation, says IGP

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian authorities are still carrying out “investigations” to determine the course of action following the detention of five leaders and activists of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on charges of sedition and threats to national security.

This was indicated by Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan in response to a question from the media as to whether follow-up arrests under the country’s Internal Security Act (ISA) were being considered.

Rally echo

The ISA-detained Hindraf leaders and activists were also seen as the masterminds behind a mass protest rally that rocked Kuala Lumpur on November 25.

The rally was declared “illegal” on the basis of a pre-emptive court order, but Hindraf mobilised demonstrators — variously estimated to have numbered between 10,000 and 30,000 — in a bid to focus international attention on the alleged “marginalisation” of the ethnic Indian minority in Malaysia.

The November 25 rally was preceded by a protest march led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur in support of the demand for “free and fair elections.”

And, on December 9, a group of lawyers and civil liberty activists staged an “illegal” walk, advocating “freedom of assembly.” Alluding to these street demonstrations, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told the ruling United Malays National Organisation in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday that such events could affect the country’s booming businesses and tourism industry.

Bar Council’s call

Meanwhile, Malaysian Bar Council President Ambiga Sreenevasan, in a statement on Saturday, expressed “regret” over the arrest of the Hindraf activists under the “draconian” ISA.

Calling for their release, she said the Bar Council would, alternatively, want that they be brought before a court of law immediately and charged so that they could have access to “all the safeguards guaranteed by law.”

The Bar Council also urged the Government to “hold back on making any further arrests under the ISA.”

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