Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Wednesday, 8th October 2008: 

Stop whining about Hindraf; abolish ISA

It is amusing when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the man who holds the top job in the country, says he is disappointed that a group of people approached him to request for the release of ISA detainees during the Hari Raya open house.

But when the Prime Minister laments that Hindraf supporters failed to shake hands and extend Eid greetings to him and his cabinet colleagues, he sounds downright pathetic.

Abdullah needs to understand that the action of Hindraf activists is part of the democratic process. He must also be educated that the chanting of slogans by Hindraf supporters is all about the freedom of expression, which is in short supply in Malaysia.

While Abdullah expresses concern over "noisy intruders" who had ruined his partying mood, ousted former Works Minister and MIC President S. Samy Vellu worries that the activists had undermined his efforts to secure the release of Hindraf leaders.

Instead of being an apologist for Abdullah and his government, Samy should gather enough courage to demand for the repeal of the Internal Security Act which allows for indefinite detention without trial, following the examples of MCA, Gerakan and the Peoples Progressive Party.

The same goes to the Human Resources Minister and MIC Sec-Gen Dr S. Subramaniam who fears that the presence of Hindraf members goes against the Indian culture. This is an absolutely ridiculous assertion, more so as it comes from a smart man like Dr Subramaniam. Since when does fighting for basic rights and liberties violate any culture?

This political high drama does not stop here. Ibrahim Ali, has threatened to protest. Maybe he does not realise that resorting to the ancient tactic of racial politics has no place in Malaysia anymore.

I urge Ibrahim to stop seeing the detention of Hindraf leaders as an Indian issue but a Malaysian one and request Muslim groups not to regard the attendance of Hindraf members at the open house as a sign of disrespect to Muslims.

Let's not start twisting the real issues and fashion them to instigate racial problems in the country. The ISA is way off its expiry date and redundant in a modern democracy. But the ruling government uses it as an easy tool to create a climate of fear and head off threats to its leadership.

I once again call upon all Malaysians to come together to demand for the abolishment of the harsh ISA as we celebrate Eidulfitri and look forward to partaking in the Diwali and Christmas festivities.

* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang