Sunday, December 16, 2007

Malaysia: more detentions coming under security act -- Reuters

Malaysia: more detentions coming under security act
Sun Dec 16, 2007 9:15am IST

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia has promised of more detentions under a controversial security law after rumours of a weekend rally caused racial unrest, the New Straits Times said on Sunday, citing a senior security official.
The widely circulated text messages said the Malay-majority would conduct race riots in the Kampung Baru area in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, in retaliation to a mass rally brought by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), who complained of racial discrimination, the paper said.

Malaysia has taken a hardline stance in recent weeks to maintain peace and order in the country ahead of elections that many believe will be called within the next few months.

An election is not due until May 2009 but Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is widely expected to dissolve parliament and call for fresh polls by early next year.
"We will not tolerate anyone who threatens the security of the country," said Mohd Johari Baharum, Malaysia's Deputy Internal Security Minister.

"It doesn't matter if they are professionals, civil servants or members of non-governmental organisations and religious groups."

He said a list of names have been submitted to the government by the police, though he declined to identify them or their numbers, the paper reported.

Malaysia has already held five ethnic Indians, part of the Hindraf group, under its Internal Security Act, a law that allows detention without trial.

Mohd Johari has said the five had been detained for up to two years because their actions had threatened national security.

Last month, Hindraf stunned the government by bringing more than 10,000 ethnic Indians onto the streets of the capital to complain of racial discrimination.
Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim was once himself locked up under the colonial-era law originally designed to fight communists.

Anwar was beaten by the then police chief during his detention in 1998, for leading a campaign for political reform after he was sacked by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The Hindraf rally was one of two mass protests last month. A separate crowd of around 10,000 people had earlier turned out on the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand electoral reforms, amid expectations of a snap poll by March 2008.

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