Malaysia to drop charges against 31 ethnic Indians

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{image-ethnic indians1_16122007.jpg}Singapore, Dec 16: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has asked the Attorney-General (AG) Abdul Gani Patail to consider the appeals to drop the attempted murder charges against 31 ethnic Indians who took part in an illegal demonstration last month during which the police were attacked.

The Prime Minister said he sympathised with the 31 charged and believed that they were misled by the group which was behind the illegal assemblies on November 25 in the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur and in Batu Caves, which houses a century old Hindu temple. The 31 detained had also rejected the extremist group and promised that they would not take part in any activities organised by the group in future, said Mr Abdullah, who is also the Internal Security Minister and wants the AG to decide on the matter as soon as possible.

The Prime Minister also dismissed as rumours about short messaging service text of racial gatherings or clashes today in Kuala Lumpur's Kampung Baru area, which is a predominantly large Malay village.

''Rumours, rumours, rumours. Tell me who is it from? As far as I know, the Malays are not having any such gathering tomorrow,'' he stressed.

''Don't make up stories and scare people,'' the Prime Minister told reporters after chairing the United Malays National Organization (Umno) supreme council meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Mr Abdullah said the AG had informed him about the representation made by the 31 detained ethnic Indians.

''This shows that many people had been misled by the group. I pity I told the AG to please consider the representation and decide on the matter as quickly as possible,'' he said, according to the Malaysian national news agency, Bernama.

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president and Works Minister S Samy Vellu has conveyed the appeals made by parents of the 31 ethnic Indians to the AG. The 31 had been detained without bail on charges of attempted murder.

Demonstrators were alleged to have thrown stones and pipes at the police, injuring one policeman who had to be treated at a hospital and had his wounds stitched.

The 13 Indian-related non-governmental organisations in the country also met the Prime Minister yesterday over problems faced by the ethnic Indian community and also appealed for dropping the attempted murder charges against the 31.

Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan has warned the public not to be taken in by text messages alleging that race riots would take place in Kampung Baru today. The messages state that the alleged gathering is in retaliation to the rally organised by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) last month.

''There will be no riots. These are rumours which are being maliciously spread to cause chaos,'' said Mr Musa, adding that the police were trying to locate the source of the text messages and said stern measures, including detention under the ISA, would follow.

''What they are doing can jeapordise national security and public order,'' said the Inspector General, warning that those spreading the rumours could be detained under Section 23 of the Act for publishing documents prejudicial to the national interest, public order, or security of Malaysia.

Separately, the Deputy Internal Security Minister Mohamad Johari Baharum said more people will likely be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows detention without trial.

A list of names had been submitted by the police and it was only a matter of time before several others were detained under the ISA, he said.

The govenrment has detained five Hindraf leaders since last Thursday under the ISA for attempting to incite racial hatred that could be prejudicial to national security.

The detainess are: P Uthayakumar, 46, V Ganabatirau, 34, M Manoharan, 46, R Kengadharan, 40, and K Vasantha Kumar, 34, were nabbed on Thursday under Section 8(1) of the ISA.

''We will not tolerate anyone who threatens the security of the country. It doesn't matter if they are professionals, civil servants or members of non-governmental organisations and religious groups.

The ISA would be applied to all whose actions affect the safety of the public,'' warned Mr Johari.

Mr Abdullah's government, ruling for 50 years since independence, is seeking to retain an absolute majority in the next parliament from the widely expected general election next year, which diplomatic sources and political analysts say could be affected by the recent racial disturbances, since the ethnic Indians raised their plight through the November 25 protest march for having been left out of the Malaysia prosperity.

Malaysia's fragmented opposition is trying to exploit the current situation, they say, pointing out that only Islamic party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), ruling the Kelantan state on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party) of the former sacked deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, could put up a challenge.


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