The Star, Wednesday December 5, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz was shocked during a recent work trip to India to find a newspaper there carrying a front page article that claimed that Malaysia was practising apartheid against Hindus.
Holding up the DNA newspaper of Nov 28, the International Trade and Industry Minister said that the article quoted a 22-year-old Sri Lankan-born poet who had spent 17 years in Malaysia, as saying that she fled Malaysia last month to escape “systematic racial harassment.” “Fleeing Malaysia? Oh my goodness gracious. Can you imagine? This is really telling lies,” Rafidah told reporters yesterday after chairing a Wanita Umno meeting. The Wanita Umno chief said that the poet, Sharanya Manivannan, had also claimed in the article that there had been cases in Malaysia of “body-snatching” of Hindu corpses by the authorities so that the deceased could be buried according to Muslim rites. She said that the poet, however, had never mentioned that these men had converted to Islam. Rafidah added that Sharanya had said in the article that “countless (Hindu) temples have been demolished and idols smashed – oftentimes in the middle of prayer sessions and devotees attacked”. “What a lie. Words like this are terrible. The article really hurts,” she said. Rafidah was heading a trade mission to India from Nov 26 to Dec 1 when she came across the newspaper article at one of the five-star hotels there. “I was shocked. Obviously there is already an international network set up,” she said, adding that she believed that this was politically motivated. During the mission to New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai, the minister said she was asked once or twice about the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) Nov 25 demonstration in Kuala Lumpur. She said she explained that it was untrue that Hindus were being marginalised in Malaysia, adding that Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) director-general Datuk R. Karuna Karan, who accompanied her on the trade mission, was himself a Malaysian Hindu. “He (Karuna) is a perfect example of those who get to the top. He’s not there by chance. MIDA is the organisation we put our trust in to get billions in investments. “And Datuk Karuna is the chief because he’s the best,” she said, adding that his predecessor too was a Hindu. Rafidah slammed Hindraf for using religion for its political purposes. She said that if there were groups that felt sidelined, they should use the proper channels to let the Government know their grievances in black-and-white, rather than taking it to the streets and to the Queen of England. Hindraf has filed a US$4 trillion (RM13.5 trillion) suit in London, claiming the British is to blame for the marginalisation of Indians in Malaysia, as they had brought them to the then Malaya as indentured labourers and exploited them. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the system of democracy practised in Malaysia, though dissimilar to that in the other democratic nations, is fair and transparent. “Our democracy is founded on our history, cultural values and our traditions. “The important thing is that we give every citizen the right to fairly elect anyone they wish to make up the Government,” he said in the Bicarawara interview programme on RTM1 last night.
Prosecution and defence teams trade words during tense
proceedings In custody: Some of the accused being escorted at the Shah Alam Sessions Court yesterday. SHAH ALAM: It was a dramatic start to the trial of 26 people alleged to be Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) supporters in a packed and heavily-guarded Sessions Court here yesterday as a high-powered prosecution team crossed swords with a huge group of defence lawyers. The suspects, detained by police in Batu Caves on Nov 25, claimed trial to various charges including taking part in an illegal assembly and causing damage to public property during the tense proceedings tinged with racial overtones. They were also charged with using criminal force on a policeman with intent to cause death. Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Patail himself led the prosecution team. Seventeen lawyers appeared for the defence. Three volunteer lawyers from the Bar Council for the defence discharged themselves after one of them, Rajpal Singh, disagreed with Hindraf lawyer P. Uthayakumar’s racial slant. Judge Azimah Omar told the defence lawyers not to be emotional
Batu Caves illegal assembly case sees A-G laying charges
By WANI MUTHIAH
SHAH ALAM: Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Patail made a personal appearance at the Sessions Court here to lay charges against 26 people who allegedly took part in an illegal gathering at the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Batu Caves on Nov 25. One of the charges was participation in an illegal assembly which led to an attempted murder. The high-powered prosecution team comprised Abdul Ghani, A-G’s Chambers’ prosecution head Datuk Yusof Zainal Abiden and Selangor prosecution chief Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman. The 26 were charged with being in an illegal assembly and using criminal force on policeman Dadi Abdul Rani with the intent of causing death, under Section 149 of the Penal Code that was punishable under Section 307 of the same code. They were also charged with participating in an illegal assembly and causing damage to public property. Both are non-bailable charges. Ten of them claimed trial to a main charge under Section 27 (5) of the Police Act 1967 and an alternative charge under Section 143 of the Penal Code for taking part in an illegal assembly. A drama started at the outset of the proceedings when three volunteer lawyers from the Bar Council discharged themselves after one of them had a fallout with Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) lawyer P. Uthayakumar. Later, Abdul Ghani said the accused were all charged under non-bailable charges and that Judge Azimah Omar had to hear all arguments before using her discretion to allow them bail. Azimah agreed and adjourned the case to today and ordered the accused to be held in police custody. She said she would not use her discretionary powers to release the accused on bail without hearing to the arguments of both sides.
Hindraf asked to fight cause in the country
PUTRAJAYA: Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders can fight their cause within the country instead of seeking overseas support, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. Stating that getting outsiders involved in their “fight” was not a good move, he added that foreigners had no right to interfere in Malaysian affairs. “It is therefore our responsibility to protect our home. Don't invite outsiders to protect us or fight on our behalf,” he told reporters here yesterday after launching Wisma Putra's time capsule to mark the ministry's 50th anniversary. When asked to comment on Hindraf's intention to present their petition directly to Buckingham Palace in London, Syed Hamid wished them good luck. The time capsule to be opened in December 2057 and placed at the ministry's lobby, contained Syed Hamid's letter to the future Foreign Minister, a copy of the book No. 1 Wisma Putra, two copies of the Wisma Putra @ 50 magazine and name cards of Wisma Putra staff. Syed Hamid revealed that he wrote on bilateral relations, international issues and problems. He also related his experience working under two prime ministers – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi