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'We'll look into plight of Indians'

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi assures the ethnic community that he will look into their grievances and address them.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2007 14:52 IST

Facing unprecedented protests against alleged marginalisation of ethnic Indians, Malaysian Premier Abdullah Badawi has assured the community that he will look into their grievances and address them accordingly.

The assurance was given to leaders and representatives of 14 NGOs led by Malaysian Hindu Council Chairman R Nadarajah, during a two-hour meeting with Badawi at the Prime Minister's office on Friday.

President of the Malaysia Indian Congress (MIC) Samy Vellu, who is also Works Minister, was present at the meeting along with representatives from the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

Nadarajah said the discussions centred on all aspects, including education, unity, agriculture and economy. "We brought to his (Badwai's) attention the expectations of the Indian community and he was very concerned."

"The Prime Minister said he would look into all these and we are satisfied with the meeting. He gave each and every one of us the time to raise the problems facing the Indian community and he took down all the points highlighted," Nadarajah was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.

The meeting came a day after the authorities invoked the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) to detain five leaders of non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) spearheading protests against alleged marginalisation of ethnic Indians in the Muslim-dominated country.

Nadarajah said the Prime Minister reminded them to inform their members and followers on why the ISA had to be invoked and why the government had to act firmly regarding the five members of the Hindraf group.

Badawi said he would also discuss the issues regarding the ethnic Indians with Vellu.Meanwhile, Malaysian police chief said the detention of the five Hindraf leaders under the Internal Security Act was imperative as investigations into the movement's activities since July showed it was a "threat" to national security, the newspaper said.

"They clearly have links with international terrorist organisations and they are involved in activities that amount to inciting racial hatred," Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan said.

He said the evidence against them and the proposal to detain them under the ISA were forwarded to Badawi, who is also Internal Security Minister.

Musa claimed the five Hindraf members were also trying to sow hatred towards the government, adding that their actions could spark racial clashes.

He said inflammatory sentiments were being widely spread through their forums, distribution of books and leaflets, on websites as well as through the short messaging service, the paper said.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, meanwhile, said the United States has been told to mind its own business in regard to Malaysia's application of the Internal Security Act.

He was responding to a statement by the US State Department on Thursday on the detention under the ISA of the five Hindraf leaders.

"Our expectation as a government is that these individuals would be provided the full protection under Malaysian law, that they would be given due process, that they would be accorded all the rights accorded to any other citizen, and that this will be done in a speedy and transparent manner," the statement had said.

"Can they first of all give a fair trial to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay? We'll only respond if they do so," Najib said here yesterday.