Unfazed by criticism, Malaysian Premier Abdullah Badawi maintained a hard line towards ethnic-Indian leaders, detained under a draconian security law for spearheading protests against alleged marginalisation of the community, saying their actions "could be deemed as treachery".
Hindraf's allegations of "ethnic cleansing" and marginalisation of ethnic-Indians in Malaysia had hurt the country's image and could seriously impair efforts to attract investors and tourists. "These actions could be deemed as treachery," Abdullah was quoted as saying by media here.
"Yes, I have signed the detention orders and there is nothing more to explain," he said after five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders were taken into custody under the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows detention without trial.
"When I feel the situation warrants it, I just sign," he said after a close-door meeting with his Brisan Nasional party leaders, declining to reveal if more people would be held. However, police said "others involved or having links with any terrorist organisation that could threaten or jeopardise national security will be picked up."