Don't exaggerate Hindraf leaders detention: Malaysia

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Singapore, Dec 15: The Malaysian government has urged local and foreign investors not to exaggerate its decision to detain five leaders of an extremist movement under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The call was made by the Selangor state chief minister Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo who explained that the government invoked the ISA on five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) for masterminding illegal assemblies in Kuala Lumpur last month and for raising highly inflammatory issues that could cause racial tension among multiracial Malaysians.

''Those who demonstrated, they are actually extremists, and the government treated them as extremists despite their beliefs and religion,'' the Malaysian national news agency Bernama today quoted Dr Khir as saying.

''I don't want our investor friends to have a negative perception of the arrests,'' he said, adding that the government did not only take harsh action against Hindu extremists but also Islamic extremist groups like the Al-Mauna a few years ago.

''The detention of the five who were behind the illegal assemblies is justified to maintain peace and stability in the country," he said at the Selangor Industry Award and Investors' Appreciation 2007 in the central Peninsular Malaysian state's capital city of Shah Alam last night.

The five Hindraf leaders were slapped with a two-year ISA detention on Thursday while some of their supporters were charged in court for attempted murder last week. ISA allows detention without trial.

Dr Khir said the state government never neglected any race in the state regardless of their race, culture and religion. ''All are treated equally as Malaysians or as Selangorians. We never deprive any race or religion in this country, especially in Selangor,'' he added.

''They were detained for their unhealthy political actions,'' he stressed.

The highest level of poverty rate is among indigenous groups, called Bumiputras, in the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo, averaging 8.3 per cent, said the Bernama report.

According to figures confirmed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in Kuala Lumpur Dr Richard Leete, the poverty rate among Malaysian Indians was 2.9 per cent and Chinese 0.6 per cent.

The five ISA detainees and Hindraf members held the largest protest march on 25 November in Kuala Lumpur city centre, estimated to be about 20,000 people, seeking better opportunities in Malaysia, where their forefathers emigrated in the 1800s as indentured labourers under the colonial masters of British Empire.


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