Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on
Address Indian marginalization;
persecuting Hindraf is not the solution
I strongly denounce the recent arrests of
10 Malaysians who attempted to submit a letter to the Prime Minister's
department in Putrajaya. The officials also refused to accept the letter
that demanded freedom for the Hindraf five and other ISA detainees, who
are held indefinitely without trial.
This move would further alienate the Indian community which has been
largely disengaged from the development of the country. The grouses
harbored by the minority community were reflected in their decision to
support and vote for the opposition at the March 8 general election.
It is also high time the ruling UMNO-led government allows for further
democratic space for people to air their dissatisfaction instead of
nabbing those who turn up to submit memorandums or hold protests.
Civil societies and rights organizations are calling for the repeal of
the Internal Security Act, an archaic relic, used primarily to curb
dissent and thwart any form of opposition to UMNO and government.
Furthermore, holding people indefinitely without trial violates
Hindraf has been in the eye of a political storm since organizing a
mammoth rally where thousands of Indians turned up to publicly show
their frustrations at the ruling government.
Hindraf's rallying cry, Makal Sakthi, has become a political brand used
by all Malaysians in the struggle against poverty, injustice and abuse
It is therefore clear that the ruling National Front coalition issued a
ban on the organization as it feels threatened by its capacity to
mobilize Indians, who were perceived as compliant.
The government must come up with durable solutions to the many woes
faced by the Indians and poor Malaysians. Branding Hindraf an extremist
organization is clearly a wrong strategy.
Malaysia has recently come under worldwide condemnation for its gross
human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, corrupt politicians,
domesticated media and tarnished judiciary.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could make a difference before he
leaves office next March. He could start by releasing all ISA prisoners
as the country gears up to celebrate Deepavali.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang