Monday, February 7, 2011

WikiLeaks: Waytha may seek legal redress

GEORGETOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti chairman P Waythamoorthy has declined to elaborate on details of his meeting with American officials that was leaked by whistleblower WikiLeaks last week.

He, however, confirmed that the meeting was held on June 25, 2008 over his application seeking a temporary political asylum in the United Kingdom.

“But it would be better for me not to go into details of the meeting,” the London-based Hindaf supremo told FMT.

It’s learnt that he is now seeking legal advice on his next step to deal with the issue.

Details of his meeting with American officials from political and intelligence units in the US Embassy in London were leaked via the London WikiLeaks cables.

The details which were cabled from the embassy to the US State Department in Washington DC were leaked to UK’s newspaper, The Telegraph.

It was revealed that Waythamoorthy had raised suspicion to US officials that his temporary asylum application could have been stalled due to a pending arms deal between London and Putrajaya.

The Telegraph in its online portal article on Saturday revealed that Waythamoorthy had speculated that the London Home Office may not want to aggravate the Malaysian government by granting him even temporary asylum.

He had cited the high volume of trade, including a lucrative pending arms sale between the two countries, for his fear.

The US officers, however, expressed doubt over his accusation that the UK was dragging its foot over his temporary asylum application.

Political asylum

The officers reported that it was too early to determine the accuracy of Waythamoorthy’s suspicion that the UK government was stonewalling the asylum application.

They said that the UK Home Office, which would determine matters of political asylum, would move very slowly as a “general rule”.

Consequently, they thought that Waythamoorthy might attribute the UK action as “bureaucratic inertia”.

Waythamoorthy applied for political asylum vis-à-vis the Geneva Convention to the British government after his Malaysian passport was revoked by the Malaysian government in 2008.

The WikiLeaks details revealed that the human rights lawyer was concerned that his application for temporary asylum status had been put on hold, leaving him without documentation to travel.

It was leaked that he had requested financial assistance for his human rights work, claiming that his international lobby was focused on minority rights for the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia.

He had claimed that Malaysia was increasingly relying on Islamic syariah law either alongside or in place of Malaysian common law, and that “Hindraf was the only Malaysian group working to combat such changes to the legal system”.

He stressed that he did not want permanent asylum in UK as he wanted to return to Malaysia, citing his family and his stalled law practice as reasons.

However, he had insisted that he would return only after the other imprisoned Hindraf leaders have been released.

Waythamoorthy has also complained that his Malaysian passport was revoked by Putrajaya to prevent him from travelling to the US to further the Hindraf cause.

Human rights violation

He believes that it was Putrajaya’s tactic to force him to eventually be deported back to Malaysia where he fears arrest.

The WikiLeaks revealed that Waythamoorthy had then enquired whether the US government can issue a travel document so that he could travel to the US or Canada to pursue his advocacy works on a temporary basis.

He had told American officials that he planned to set up a mission to monitor and document human rights violations in Malaysia.

He had apparently also told the officials that the mission was also to train Malaysian citizens in the investigation of human rights abuses.

Waythamoorthy was also compelled to clarify Hindraf’s non-political position when the American officials told him that the US government would not back politically-partisan organisations.

He explained that although Hindraf remained a predominantly Hindu advocacy group, it was focused on the expansion of democratic rights for all Malaysians.

He also clarified that Hindraf was particularly involved in the advocacy of freedom of religion, educational equality, and equal rights for minorities.

The officers then told Waythamoorthy that they were not in position to offer assistance or determine whether Hindraf was a partisan organisation or provide a travel document.

But they assured him they would convey an account of his status and Hindraf’s objectives to Washington and the American embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

The officials have explained that they were unaware of the existence of such a travel document, and that they were doubtful that Waythamoorthy could be accommodated.

No passport

Waythamoorthy then clarified that he did not want a permanent asylum, either in the UK or US.

He left the country during a police clampdown on Hindraf activities in the aftermath of its landmark Nov 25 anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) in 2007.

His elder brother Uthayakumar, three lawyers and another person were detained without trial on Dec 13 under the draconian Internal Security Act.

The five have been released in early 2009.

According to Waythamoorthy, until today, the Malaysian government does not want him to return home and had refused to return his passport, which had been handed over to the Malaysian embassy in London.