PETALING JAYA, 16 Oct 2008: The Pakatan Rakyat has condemned the government’s decision to ban Hindraf, saying it clearly goes against the principle of basic rights and democracy.
“Although we do not totally agree with Hindraf’s demands, we want to stress that the Indian community’s problems and issues must be resolved amicably.
“We are worried that such [government] action that suppresses the basic rights of a civil group will anger the Indian community and increase racial tension,” the Pakatan Rakyat said in a statement today.
Noting that the ban came after Hindraf supporters visited the prime minister at the Muslim ministers’ Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house on 1 Oct, the Pakatan Rakyat said the group’s action of visiting an open house was no different from what other Malaysians have been doing.
Hindraf supporters had queued up to meet Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the open house to ask him to release all Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees, including five Hindraf leaders.
Another group of activists, led by bloggers who wanted fellow blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin released from ISA detention, was also at the open house with the same message for Abdullah. But they have not been criticised the way Hindraf has, the Pakatan Rakyat noted.
When a group of Hindraf supporters went to opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Aidilfitri open house on 12 Oct with the same message, they had no problems meeting the Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor.
In its statement, the Pakatan Rakyat urged the government to stop suppressing civil movements, and to release all ISA detainees as well as abolish the Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
Hindraf coordinator RS Thanenthiran told The Nut Graph that there was no point for Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to ban an organisation that does not exist.
“Hindraf is merely a group of people who strongly believe in fighting their cause,” he said in a phone interview.
He said neither Syed Hamid nor the government could dampen the spirit of Hindraf members, who are “fighting for the Indians and Malaysians that are sidelined.”
Asked to comment on Syed Hamid’s statement that the government would let the police and court decide on what action to take against Hindraf, Thanenthiran said: “We will remain silent now and see what happens.”
He also said the police should look into Hindraf’s reports against Syed Hamid for making seditious remarks against the Indian community before taking any action against them.
“We have made 32 police reports against Syed Hamid, and we wonder what action has been taken so far?”
Thanenthiran added that if Syed Hamid is serious about maintaining the nation’s harmony, he must be willing to meet Hindraf personally.