PUTRAJAYA, 16 Oct 2008: The government will let the police and court decide on what action to take against banned Hindraf, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said today.
He said the police would carry out a thorough investigation and it was up to the court to pass sentence if the group was found guilty of a crime.
The government will not tolerate any extremist group regardless of racial or religious background, he said, noting that the government had previously taken action against Al-Arqam, Al-Ma’unah and Kumpulan Militan Malaysia.
“The government’s priority is to protect the security of Malaysians,” he told reporters at his office.
He reiterated that Hindraf’s activities had consistently broken the law, and their illegal demonstrations turned violent and incited racial hatred.
The government banned Hindraf yesterday for contravening the Societies Act 1966.
On Oct 1, Hindraf attended the open house hosted by Muslim cabinet ministers at the Putra World Trade Centre to ask Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to release all Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees, including five Hindraf leaders.
This was criticised by Syed Hamid and other government leaders and some individuals as crossing the line and being disrespectful of Islam and the open house.
“They (Hindraf) disseminated messages that could cause racial and religious tension. They created fear among the people. They even threatened people’s lives,” said Syed Hamid.
“Although the government is willing to listen to the people’s grievances and even utterances of unpleasant words, it cannot tolerate groups that propagate extremism and stir up racial and religious tension.”
He said the Indian community was not neglected in this country as they were quite well represented with 14 Indian members of parliament. They also made up 21.4% in the legal fraternity and 18.4% in medicine.
Syed Hamid added that the overall income of Indians was 1.2 times higher than the income of the Malays.
With regard to those living under the poverty line, the Indians comprised 2.9%, Chinese 0.6%, and Malays 8.3%, he added.
Syed Hamid said there was a ratio of one temple to 149 Hindus and only one mosque to 2,300 Muslims in the country.
Asked why the government only banned the group yesterday, he said the government had to first carry out a thorough investigation.
On the timing of the ban prior to Deepavali on 27 Oct, the home minister said it was the government’s duty to protect peace and stability in the country at all times. — Bernama