Hindraf wants a dialogue with Malaysian PM


Kuala Lumpur : In the eye of a political storm since November, a body of Malaysian Indian activists that has five top leaders in jail wants a meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to “put an end to problems facing Indians”.

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Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P. Waythamoorthy said from London that he was ready to return home if the prime minister met him or his jailed brother P. Uthayakumar for a closed door meeting in the “political and economic interests of the Indians”.

Waythamoorthy said only the prime minister’s office could resolve the problems of the Indians, Tamil language daily Tamil Nesan reported.

Though he claims the government has revoked his passport, valid till 2009, the government denies it and says he should return home for its renewal.

The Hindraf leader said the dialogue must be held “soon if Abdullah is committed to putting an end to the problems facing Indians”.

Over two million Indians, a bulk of them Tamil Hindus, form roughly eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

Hindraf, an unregistered organisation claiming to speak for the community, is agitating about perceived discrimination in jobs and education.

It courted controversy after it staged a protest rally in Kuala Lumpur last November.

The government accused it of trying to disturb the country’s ethnic balance and nurture “terror links”, especially with the Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Five top Hindraf leaders – M. Manoharan, S. Kengadharan, Vasanth Kumar, P. Uthayakumar and Ganabatirau – are serving two year jail terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

Although Hindraf has petitioned Badawi and the government at various levels, there has been no reprieve for the five. The government has not heeded pleas from political parties and human rights groups and has justified the detention “in national interest”.