FROM 20 to 26 Sept 2008, the Tamil press focused on the Internal Security Act (ISA), especially the Hindraf five, who have been detained without trial under the act.
On 22 Sept, Malaysia Nanban reported Kapar Member of Parliament (MP) S Manikavasagam as saying if the Pakatan Rakyat took over the federal government, it would immediately release all five Hindraf leaders. He also said the Pakatan Rakyat government would repeal the ISA immediately after they formed government.
On the same day, both Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban reported that MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu had asked the government to release the five. Samy Vellu said this would reduce the anger of the Indian Malaysian community.
On 23 Sept, Malaysia Nanban reported on the statement by Datuk A Vaithilingam, who represents Indian Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), that Hindraf leaders did approach the government to discuss their community’s issues such as poverty, temple demolitions and religious conversions, but the government refused to meet.
However, when the community gathered peacefully on 25 Nov 2007, the government reacted by arresting Hindraf leaders under the ISA. Vaithilingam questioned why there was discrimination in releasing the Hindraf leaders when other detainees such as Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng and DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok had already been released.
Malaysian Nanban‘s 23 Sept editorial echoed the demand for the Hindraf leaders to be released. The editorial called on all groups who share the same goal to continue focusing on their demand because it is gaining momentum, including within the ruling and the opposition parties.
The daily noted that many NGOs and individuals are also calling for the release of the Hindraf five, and this constitutes a clear message to the government.
In a 23 Sept Makkal Osai report, Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran asked leaders from the MIC and the People’s Progressive Party whether they would support a Pakatan Rakyat motion in Parliament demanding for the Hindraf leaders’ release.
In response to these increasing demands, Samy Vellu said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had given assurance he would look into the matter. This was reported on 24 Sept in Malaysia Nanban. According to the paper, Samy Vellu said Abdullah had promised to discuss the matter with Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.
On 25 Sept, Malaysia Nanban reported Hindraf national coordinator RS Thanendran as saying that previously, certain politicians supported the government’s arrest of the Hindraf leaders under the ISA. But today, these same politicians are asking for their release. Thanendran said Hindraf supporters would not be tricked by this.
Makkal Osai, on the other hand, reported that Thanendran wanted to know if these politicians would join Hindraf in a 27 Sept gathering in Dataran Merdeka to demand the release of the Hindraf five and Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin. Thanendran said if these politicians did not join the gathering, it was better for them to stop issuing statements about the release of the Hindraf leaders.
On 25 Sept, both Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban published a statement from London by Hindraf leader P Waytha Moorthy, who demanded that Samy Vellu apologise to Hindraf and the Indian Malaysian community for his 13 Dec 2007 statement supporting the government’s position and actions against Hindraf for being a “threat to national security” (Samy Vellu has since changed his position). Waytha Moorthy said Hindraf leaders have never been a threat to national security.
Makkal Osai‘s 26 Sept editorial called on the government to listen to the Indian Malaysian community’s demands and not to delay the release of the Hindraf leaders.
Both Makkal Osai and Malaysia Nanban reported Samy Vellu as denying the claim by Perak PAS commissioner Ahmad Awang that MIC MPs were among those who would cross over to the Pakatan Rakyat.
On 21 Sept, Malaysia Nanban reported that Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president R Sivarasa had invited MIC MPs to join the Pakatan Rakyat. The report quoted Sivarasa as saying Samy Vellu could not stop any MPs from crossing over because the people wanted changes.
On 22 Sept, Malaysia Nanban carried a news report quoting Samy Vellu as saying he was not the main reason for the MIC’s defeat in the 8 March 2008 election. He said the people wanted change and they made the change.
Makkal Osai on 26 Sept did a follow-up report on its front page on the temple demolition on Jalan Baru, Kampung Tasek, Ampang in early September.
Ampang Jaya councilor S Subramaniam asked the Ampang Jaya city council president if he had ordered the temple demolition, since the Selangor government, the Ampang MP and state assemblypersons did not issue any such order.
In Makkal Osai, Samy Vellu condemned the Pakatan Rakyat government, pointing out that the Pakatan and its leaders had promised not to demolish any temples while they were in power.