Malaysian PM terms Hindraf agitation as betrayal

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{image-MALAY PM01_13122007.jpg}Singapore, Dec 13: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has again lashed out at recent protestors of the Indian origin, saying they had betrayed the country.

''This is a betrayal of our country. Was there ethnic cleansing? There was nothing about wiping out the Indians in the country,'' he said, referring to recent protests by ethnic Indians claiming ethnic cleansing. Mr Abdullah labelled those who solicit support from outsiders as traitors and the action of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which claimed to fight for the rights of the Indian community in Malaysia, as an attempt to destroy the country and racial unity.

Speaking in Kuantan on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the Premier pointed out that the Barisan Nasional-led government always listened to the views of the people which were conveyed through the proper channels like the elected representatives, associations, non-governmental organisations and certain committees.

''We carry out development according to the wishes and aspirations of the people and we practise a policy of helping all the races,'' Mr Abdullah was quoted as saying by the Malaysian national news agency Bernama.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister received a memorandum from the Damai Malaysia group opposing street demonstrations in the country.

Damai Malaysia, a group of caring Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), submitted the five-page memorandum from 395 NGOs which jointly rejected street demonstrations and called on the government to take stern action against the culprits, according to the Bernama report.

Abdullah said the country had become developed and successful based on the practice of democracy which respected and upheld the law and constitution.

Malaysia still gave the people the freedom to voice their opinions, including in the mass media, he said.

If this freedom is used in an irresponsible manner, the people will suffer, he added. He disclosed that the Malaysian businesses especially the tourism sector had suffered losses due to the recent demonstrations and protest rallies.

''If already 10 per cent of the bookings are cancelled, it's a loss to the hotels. Besides, I believe that the tour agencies and tour bus operators have also received cancellations,'' said the Malaysian Premier who had been recently briefed on the booking cancellations at major hotels.

Some Human Rights lawyers and Hindraf led ethnic Indians had been protesting since last month seeking freer and clean general elections, that is widely expected next year, and more opportunities for the minority Hindu Indian community in the Malaysian economic development.


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