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Protesters in Malaysia hold candlelight vigil against ISA

P. S. Suryanarayana

The Act provides for long periods of detention without charges and trial

— PHOTO: AFP

FOR A CAUSE: Ethnic Indian demonstrators during a candlelight vigil in downtown Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

SINGAPORE: Calling for abolition of Malaysia’s tough Internal Security Act (ISA), a small multiracial gathering held a brief candlelight vigil in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, according an organiser.

The ISA provides for long periods of detention without charges and trial.

500 people take part

The vigil was held in front of the Malaysian Bar Council by about 500 people, cutting across racial lines, according to Thanenthiran, coordinator of the Hindu Rights Action Force.

For some time now, Hindraf has been campaigning for the “rights” of the ethnic Indians in Malaysia, where Malays form the majority followed by ethnic Chinese as the largest minority.

Five of Hindraf leaders are now in detention under the ISA, and unofficial estimates place the total number of people from various races so detained at this time at over 90.

“Illegal assembly”

Multiracial Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (Group for the Abolition of ISA) had first given a call for a rally in Kuala Lumpur last month and later postponed it to Saturday. And, the authorities made elaborate security arrangements to prevent an “illegal assembly.” In the event, the protesters, who walked towards the venue of the scheduled rally after the candlelight vigil, “dispersed peacefully,” Mr. Thanenthiran said.

There was no immediate word from the authorities. Unrelated to this, Malaysia’s Works Minister and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) leader, Samy Vellu, said in a statement that his party would form a council for Hindu temples.

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