Malaysia PM angry over 'Ethnic cleansing' remarks

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Singapore, Dec 3: The Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is angry about ''Ethnic Cleansing'' remarks made by some Malaysian Indian leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) who led one of the biggest rallies last Sunday, Kuala Lumpur-based media reported.

But yet the popular Premier of 26 million multi-racial Malaysians is withholding the most feared timeless detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which is usually used when the country's peace is threatened. The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has gone overboard in telling a blatant lie, accusing the Malaysian government of carrying out ethnic cleansing on the Indians in the country, Mr Abdullah said yesterday.

Visibly angry over the accusation, the Prime Minister said it was a baseless allegation and a blatant lie that could arouse hatred among multiracial Malaysians and spark racial clashes. ''I'm really angry, I rarely get angry but this blatant lie cannot be tolerated at all,'' he said according to a report carried by the Malaysian national news agency Bernama. Various media reports estimate that between 5,000 to 20,000 ethnic Indians participated in the rally in the central business district of Kuala Lumpur last Sunday, to highlight their plight of being marginalised and left out of the economic development.

The rally also wanted to present a petition to the British High Commissioner in Malaysia seeking support for their four trillion US dollars claim for having brought their forefathers in the 1800s as indentured labourers and left them out in the the cold.

Premier Abdullah, known for his cool composure but firmly managing Malaysia, took pains to explain that the ethnic cleansing happened in Bosnia when the Serbians killed and tried to wipe out Bosnians in that country. In Malaysia, there are no problems with Islam and Hindu religions, he assured, stressing that he has helped the Indians and the community of two million or about seven percent of the Malaysian society, has never been marginalised.

''I've helped them, I've helped them in many ways,'' he pointed out.

''They want money to repair their temples, I help because we respect other religions and they are not our enemies, they havecooperated very well with us, this is what has happened,'' stressed Mr Abdullah, acknowledging that the Malaysian Indians have been staunch supporters of the Malaysian government in the 50 years of independence.

But fearing tough charges under the ISA, Hindraf leader, Mr P Waytha Moorthy, has left the country on his way to Britain via India to drum up support at the United Nations level, claiming that more than 100 Indians had been killed in a clash in the central Peninsular Malaysian state of Selangor since 2001 in a 'mini genocide' in 2001.

Hindraf legal adviser and lawyer Mr P Uthayakumar has written to British Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown, claiming 'every three weeks, one Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia'. He has asked Britain to move an emergency motion in the United Nations condemning Malaysia for 'ethnic cleansing'. These developments have put pressure on the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a junior partner in the ruling united front, Barisan Nasional, and its President Mr S Samy Vellu.

''It goes beyond meeting people once a week. The problems of the urban poor (Indians) are not sufficiently addressed. And it didn't help that the Indians' grievances were hijacked by people harping on racial sentiments,'' Professor Mustafa Ishak from the Northern University of Malaysia told the Straits Times, a Singapore daily.

Many of these Indians, whose forefathers came from southern India, have to study in run-down Tamil schools, according to media reports today.

Only 1.2 percent shares on the local bourse are controlled by the Malaysian Indians despite being seven percent of the local population.


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