Friday, October 17, 2008

Malaysia ban on Hindu rights group sparks outcry

Malaysia ban on Hindu rights group sparks outcry
Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:11pm IST

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's government on Wednesday outlawed Hindu rights group Hindraf which held a massive anti-government protest last year against alleged discrimination of minority ethnic Indians.
Malaysia is holding five leaders of Hindraf or the Hindu Rights Action Force under the harsh Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, after they led the protest last November.
Ethnic Indians make up 7 percent of Malaysia's 27 million population and, like ethnic Chinese, have expressed growing resentment against decades-old government policies giving majority Muslim-Malays preferential treatment.
News agency Bernama said the Home (Interior) Ministry clamped down on Hindraf after it found evidence that the group posed "a threat to public order and morality".
"The decision to declare Hindraf an illegal organisation is not based on one or two of its activities that are in contravention of the law but covers all the actions it has taken since it was formed," Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said.
"Hindraf has also tried to secure support from foreign countries for the purpose of pressuring the government to bow to its demands," he said.
The opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) condemned the ban. "The banning of Hindraf by the Home Minister must be deplored in the strongest possible terms," DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said. "It will only aggravate the disaffection among the Indian community."
Malaysia has long been wary of anything that might upset racial harmony in the multicultural and relatively prosperous Southeast Asian nation.