Andrew Ong | Oct 8, 08 5:11pm
A Malay-language daily’s continuing condemnation of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is politically motivated, claimed coordinator RS Thanenthiran.
Utusan Malaysia today front-paged calls for action against Hindraf supporters who were allegedly unruly at the ministerial Hari Raya ‘open house’ last Wednesday at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
The report entitled ‘Tegas tangani Hindraf’ (Deal firmly with Hindraf) quoted several individuals who called on the government to take action.
Reacting to this, Thanenthiran said: “Umno elections are around the corner. Now, they are condemning Hindraf to get Malay support...(Utusan) is trying to please its political owners.”
He claimed that the daily did not present a true picture of what transpired at the event and did not contacted Hindraf representatives for clarification either.
Information coordinator S Jayathas said photographs of the event would be sufficient to prove that the movement’s supporters had not misbehaved.
“They should go to our website and see the photos. These show very clearly that everything was done in a peaceful way. It is not our culture to create havoc in other people’s house,” he said.
On suggestions in the Utusan report that Hindraf was being rude to the Malays and Islam, Jayathas said it was a non-issue because the movement merely used the opportunity to ask Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA).
“How can they say that we are racist? In what way? We are just asking for the ISA to be abolished,” he said.
When they eventually met Abdullah on Oct 1, Hindraf activists presented him with a teddy bear and a Hari Raya card which contained their plea for abolition of the ISA.
Defending the activists, Hindraf legal advisor N Surendran, alleged that it was the police who had acted in an unruly manner that day.
“They were intimidating and threatening to arrest people who came to participate in the ‘open house’. They (initially) prevented the Hindraf supporters from entering the venue.
“One even asked P Waythamoothy’s (Hindraf chairperson-in-exile) wife to remove her t-shirt (which carried a Hindraf logo),” he said.
Surendran said Hindraf has become the victim of a harsh campaign to incite hatred against the movement and Indian Malaysians.
“They creating something out of absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing violent happen during ‘open house’ (at) an open venue. Nothing wrong with that in a democracy,” he said.
On Home Ministry secretary-general Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof’s suggestion that Hindraf be ‘banned’, Surendran said that the statement was “absurd” and without justification.
“(Hindraf) is not a terrorist or armed movement. It is a mass movement of citizens calling for social improvement - not just for Indians, but all marginalised communities,” he added.
Although Hindraf is not a registered body, Surendran argued that the movement exists by virtue of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees the right to freedom of association.