Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ethnic Problem Stirs Malaysian Lawyers

The Malaysian Bar Council has urged the government to set up a panel of experts to study the grievances of all communities who feel they are marginalised.

Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan said the study should focus on identifying such groups and studying the issue of their access to resources with the aim of providing recommendations to improve the quality of their lives, The Star newspaper reported.

She made the call Sunday at a human rights rally, called Festival of Rights, which the police declared illegal and detained four lawyers and as many human rights activists.

She added that the council would write to the inspector general of police to complain about the arrests of several people.

The government ordered a crackdown on public protests during the last fortnight after one staged by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), a group claiming to speak for the two million-plus Tamil settlers from India, staged a rally that was declared illegal and dispersed.

Thirty-one people are being tried in that connection.

Malaysia, a nation of 27 million, takes pride in being multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Indians form eight per cent of the population.

Hindraf says that ethnic Indians are discriminated against in education and jobs. It has also alleged ethnic cleansing of the Hindu populace and demolition of Hindu temples.

From the International Herald Tribune: Malaysian police detain 21 people for illegal rallies.
Image - Source

Just in from The Sun Update via SMS, 10.36 AM: Hindraf issued a statement that its leader P. Uthayakumar was arrested at 8 AM today while on the way to his office in Kuala Lumpur. Apparently PKR's Tian Chua was also arrested this morning when trying to hand a Bersih memo on the extension of the Election Commission Chairman's retirement age to Parliament.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini
reports that
Uthayakumar has been taken to the Jalan Duta courts, possibly to be charged with illegal assembly.

11.02 AM: The Immigration Department temporarily detained Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the KLIA this morning upon his arrival from Istanbul. He was later cleared for entry.

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