FROM 25 to 31 Oct 2008, the Tamil press continued to focus on Hindraf and its struggles. Of particular interest was the help offered by Islamist party PAS to mediate between Hindraf and the government.
“We are willing to be the mediator,” Malaysia Nanban quoted PAS as saying on 25 Oct.
PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa reportedly said the government seems to be avoiding any discussion with Hindraf, which is why PAS is willing to mediate between the two.
On 29 Oct, Tamil Nesan reported that Husam and PAS Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub had been with 40 Hindraf supporters who had gathered in front of the Putrajaya police headquarters to show support for Hindraf members who had been earlier arrested. The report quoted Salahuddin as saying arresting Hindraf supporters would not resolve the issue, and that the government should instead talk with the Hindraf leaders.
The arrests of 12 Hindraf supporters on 23 Oct stole the limelight in Makkal Osai, Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban in the days after. Hindraf supporters had gathered in front of the prime minister’s office in Putrajaya to hand over a memorandum that demanded for the release of all Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees, including five Hindraf leaders. Police arrested 12 of them, including a six-year-old.
On 25 Oct, Makkal Osai reported that 10 of the supporters were remanded for three days by the Kajang Magistrate Court. On 29 Oct, the paper reported that the 10 were released on 26 Oct, in time for them to celebrate Deepavali the next day.
All three Tamil dailies carried numerous Deepavali wishes from political leaders, businesspersons, entertainers and others. On 26 Oct (the day before Deepavali was celebrated), all three newspapers reported Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying the Indian Malaysian community’s contributions are important for national development.
The Deepavali message of MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu was also published in the three newspapers. Samy Vellu said Indian Malaysians must strive hard to develop and succeed like the other ethnic groups. He also said, as reported in Tamil Nesan, that the Indian community must use education and technology for their development.
Makal Osai on the same day reported Pushpa Neela’s plea for her husband, M Manoharan, to be released from ISA detention on Deepavali. “Will my husband be released during Deepavali?” she was quoted as asking.
She said she had hoped the five ISA-held Hindraf leaders would be released on Hari Raya Aidilfitri in early October, but that didn’t happen; so Hindraf supporters were hoping they would be released on Deepavali.
On 25 Oct, Malaysia Nanban reported Hindraf national coordinator RS Thanenthiran as saying the community must continue to struggle for the release of the Hindraf five.
On 25 Oct, Malaysia Nanban reported that Jalan Lintang in Kuala Kangsar would be renamed Jalan Tun Sambanthan, and Jalan Silibin in Ipoh would be renamed Jalan P Patto.
According to the report, Perak local councilor S Thiagarajan said the Kuala Kangsar District Council accepted the proposal for the Jalan Lintang name change.
Ipoh Barat Member of Parliament M Kulasegaran was also reported as saying the Perak Menteri Besar would be invited to officiate at the Jalan Silibin name change on 19 Dec, which is the late Patto’s birthdate.
In another Pakatan Rakyat-led state, a directive has gone out to all local councils not to demolish Hindu temples without the state assembly’s approval. On 29 Oct, Malaysia Nanban cited a Malaysiakini report that quoted Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as saying this was the state government’s decision.
On 31 Oct, Malaysia Nanban frontpaged a report about 50 Indian Malaysians in Baling, Kedah who still do not have birth certificates. The report quoted local councilor G Rajendran as saying most of them are students. Because they do not have birth certificates, they are denied government aid. Rajendran said he would seek the Kedah government’s help to resolve the matter soon.
Saravanan vs Murugiah
The clash between two deputy ministers was reported in both Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban.
In a Tamil Nesan report on 29 Oct, Federal Territory Deputy Minister Datuk M Saravanan ticked off Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department T Murugiah for condemning the government.
On the same day, Malaysia Nanban quoted Saravanan as saying Murugiah needed to control what he said in public. Saravanan added that Murugiah should not simply blame the government, but instead should think of measures to resolve issues of public concern.
On 31 Oct, Malaysia Nanban reported Murugiah as saying that he was voicing out public complaints that were brought to his attention. He accused Saravanan of trying to portray him as being against the prime minister’s leadership.
On another matter, all three dailies reported on 30 Oct that Samy Vellu would continue to defend his post as party president in the upcoming MIC elections.