A candlelight vigil at Hindu temples to protest the detention of five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has been condemned by Malaysian minister of Indian origin S Samy Vellu.
The sentiments of two million-plus Hindus had been hurt by the "desecration of a place of worship", Works Minister Vellu said on Sunday.
"Hindus do not use candles in temples ... we use the kuttu vilaku (oil lamp). From the feedback I got, (other) Hindus are very unhappy over this," Vellu was quoted as saying by The New Straits Times on Monday.
Five leaders of Hindraf were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) after they organised a protest rally on November 15 last year. The government has charged them with having terrorist links, a charge they have denied.
The government had declared the rally illegal and dispersed it. Thirty-one participants are being persecuted for "threatening peace".
Hindraf claims to speak for the two million Tamil Hindus, while the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) that Vellu heads speaks for the ethnic Indians who form roughly eight per cent of Malaysia's 27 million population.
Other groups among ethnic Indians include Telugus, Malayalis, Sikhs and Hindi-speaking people from north India.
Political overtones are discernible in the debate with The Star saying that all parties are preparing for early general elections.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, during an interview on CNN, "confirmed for the first time that he was going to go for an early polls to seek a fresh mandate. He even said that the elections would be held before May", The Star said.
While Vellu and his MIC are part of the Badawi led coalition Barisan Nasional, there are also pockets of support among ethnic Indians from some other parties, including Gerakan and Democratic Action Party (DAP). Some Hindraf leaders belong to DAP.