~ Rahmah Ghazali
Pakatan leaders today condemned the decision by the Home Ministry to ban the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
At a press conference in Parliament, PAS secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaafar questioned why Hindraf had been singled out.
“There are a lot of coalitions and non-governmental organisations which have emerged and bring up all sorts of issues. It is strange why Hindraf has become the only target,” said the Tumpat MP.
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar yesterday revealed the decision to ban the movement after the ministry was satisfied with the facts and evidence which showed that “Hindraf had (been) and was being used for unlawful purposes and posed a threat to public order and morality”.
Recently, Hindraf had come under fire for going to the ministerial Hari Raya ‘open house’ to deliver a message to free five of its leaders detained under the Internal Security Act.
According to Kamaruddin, this is the reason why the movement was banned.
“(But) their decision to make Hindraf an illegal body following the ‘open house’ visit is clearly against the principles of democracy and rights,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) also condemned the decision by submitting an emergency motion to Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to discuss the matter.
The speaker said he will decide on this by Monday.
Next ISA target?
Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) who also present said Pakatan leaders are worried that more civil society activists could be targeted and detained under the ISA following the ban.
He said that Hindraf could follow in the heels of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), where more than 80 alleged supporters of the Islamic movement had been detained.
“This (the ban) is a threat to civil society. There could be a mass arrest of activists who can be classified as Hindraf supporters.
“Now we are worried if more people and civil society activists could be targeted and be detained under ISA. That is why we are very concerned,” he added.
Kamaruddin said the ban could also become a smudge on democracy and the prime minister’s reforms as the former has promised to do his best in his last five months in power.
“But now he has decided to take this drastic action on a peaceful open house move that was not something done in the middle of the night or creeping into the compound in his residence.
“There were also no reports of any violent act committed by them (Hindraf) towards anybody, let alone the prime minister that day,” he added.
R Sivarasa, who also attended the press conference said the ban sends a “wrong and negative message about democracy in the country.”
Other Pakatan leaders present at the press conference were Tony Pua (DAP-Petaling Jaya Selatan), Hatta Ramli (PAS- Kuala Krai), M Gobalakrishnan (PKR-Padang Serai) and S Manikavasagam (PKR-Kapar).
This article is taken from Malaysiakini.