Singapore, Dec 14 (UNI) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the five members of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) ''in the interests of national security''.
Even though the government gave freedom of expression to every Malaysian citizen, national security was paramount than anything else, said Mr Abdullah, who is also the Internal Security Minister.
The five Hindraf leaders, who were detained yesterday, had earlier raised issues relating to ethnic Indian cleansing in Malaysia and deprivation of the minority community, largely Hindus, from participating in the Malaysian prosperity.
''Between the freedom of expression and public safety, I will give importance to public safety. If you want to speak up, you must follow procedures,'' Mr Abdullah said in a report carried by the Malaysian national news agency Bernama.
''This is not a nation that shuts the mouth of everyone. The people are not dumb. If we want freedom, we must be responsible.
Freedom cannot be given without responsibility,'' he told reporters late last night in Kuantan on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
''Threats to national security must be given serious attention as we need to value peace and national security. We won't be able to develop this country and its people the way we want it to be without these ingredients. Barisan Nasional has announced many plans and has the money to carry them out in the years to come,'' he said.
The five detainees, include P Uthayakumar (46), a legal advisor to the Police Watch and Human Rights Committee and advisor to the Malaysian People's Reform Party; M Manoharan (46), member of the opposition Democratic Action Party; V Ganabatirau, advisor to the DAP branch; R Kenghadharan, one of the counsels for Uthayakumar and T Vasanthakumar, organising secretary of Hindraf.
Uthayakumar had earlier participated in reform campaign to support sacked and jailed former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.