Apr 3, 2008

Attorney general says detained Malaysian Indians a security threat

Malaysia's attorney general Thursday said five detained HINDRAF activists should not be freed as they are a threat to national security.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's attorney general Thursday said five detained ethnic Indian activists should not be freed as they are a threat to national security.

Abdul Gani Patail told the country's highest court that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had ordered their arrest under the tough Internal Security Act (ISA) following a comprehensive investigation.

"The prime minister... had ordered their arrest (last December) upon a thorough police investigation which deemed them as a threat to national security," he said.

Abdul Gani was responding to arguments by the lawyer of the five, who said Wednesday that their detention was illegal and demanded their immediate release.

"To say that there was no evidence, that the minister acted on his own frolic, was absolutely wrong. I urge the court not to accept that," he said.

The five, including a newly elected state lawmaker, enraged the government in November by mounting a mass rally alleging discrimination against minority ethnic Indians in Malaysia, which is dominated by Muslim Malays.

Police used tear gas, water cannon and baton charges to break up the Hindraf street protest, which drew 8,000 people.

The five are being held in the Kamunting detention centre in northern Perak state.

Abdul Gani also read Abdullah's sworn statement in court, which said the five could have started racial riots and linked them to Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"In pursuing their cause, Hindraf had tried to get international acknowledgement and help from the terrorist organisation LTTE with the intention of further inciting riots in this country, which has and will threaten peace and national security," the statement said.

"If not stopped and contained, this could cause racial riots on a larger scale in this country, threatening peace and national security," it added.

Ethnic Indians, who make up eight per cent of the country's population, complain they run a distant third in terms of wealth, opportunities and education.

Muslim Malays, who make up 60 per cent of the population, control the government while the ethnic Chinese, at 26 per cent, dominate business.

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