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'Hindraf not voice of majority'

india Updated: Dec 11, 2007 10:14 IST

IANS
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Prominent Malaysian leaders and lawmakers of Indian origin have disputed claims by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) that it represents the ethnic Indians and have expressed fears that its campaign could hurt the community's long-term interests.

One Indian origin leader has questioned Hindraf's claims of leading a Gandhian protest on Nov 25, pointing out that stones were thrown during its protest rally that the police forcibly dispersed.

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the oldest political party led by Samy Vellu, who is Minister for Works in Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's government, has said that it had been championing the cause of Indians while staying within the Malaysian system.

The Hindraf does not represent the views of the majority of Indians, said Social Strategic Foundation executive director Denison Jayasooria, adding that the organisation wanted to "trigger religious sensitivities by using words like ethnic cleansing", The New Straits Times said.

"This is simply wrong. Their ploy will diminish the status of Indians," Jayasooria said, alleging that the Hindraf's motives were "far from the truth and questionable".

He said Indians had to be cautious and not be exploited by these claims, which were "baseless".

"I believe that Indians can distinguish between what is true and what is not."

Jayasooria said the government had helped many Indians become successful through various opportunities.

"This clearly indicates that there are opportunities for Indians to progress in the country. This has been achieved by addressing problems through democratic principles."

Asked how Hindraf's claims had affected the Indian community, he said the government had responded by investigating its claims through organisations like the police and MIC.

"If Hindraf leaders claim to be followers of Gandhian principles, the act of throwing stones and opposing authority would not have happened."

He said Malaysia was a proven model of a multi-racial democratic society that applied the due process of law and parliament to formulate laws and policies for its citizens.

"The Hindraf can destroy this process by taking the law into its own hands," Jayasooria said, adding that the country had "no room for extremists".

Indians in Malaysia, comprising mainly Tamil Hindus, form eight percent of the country's 27 million population.

The MIC's national co-ordinator P. Kamalanathan echoed Jayasooria's sentiments that Hindraf's motives were unfounded.

"Its leaders have disgraced Indians and the country. They have been ungrateful to our forefathers who worked hard to develop peace and unity in the nation."

The Indian immigrants' views have come forth even as Sultan of Selangor, member of the Malaysian royalty that assumes the Head of the State office by rotation, said he was "upset and angry" at the Hindraf's campaign and its followers for carrying the portraits of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

The Hindraf staged a rally on Nov 25 to press for a lawsuit before the British court alleging that the present "discrimination" of the Malaysian Indians was because of the way they were brought to Malaysia during the British era.

Voicing his unhappiness at the actions of the Hindraf, the Sultan of Selangor said the rights body has incited hatred and damaged the country's image by taking its campaign overseas.

"I am disappointed with what the Hindraf has done. I am upset. There are better ways of doing things," said Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

He said he was "upset and angry" at the Hindraf for holding its "illegal" protest in defiance of the police and causing disruption to many in Kuala Lumpur.

On Hindraf supporters carrying banners and pictures of Queen Elizabeth II during the protest, he said: "Why were they displaying her pictures and asking her to intervene in Malaysia? They can always bring their case to the government," he was quoted as saying in The Star.