Monday, January 7, 2008

India, Malaysia discuss ethnic Indian issue

India, Malaysia discuss ethnic Indian issue

Kuala Lumpur (PTI): India and Malaysia on Monday discussed the plight of ethnic Indians, who had been protesting against the government alleging their marginalisation in this multi-racial country.

The issue came up during talks Defence Minister A K Antony had with his counterpart Najib Razak here.

However, the two leaders did not reveal details of their discussions on the issue.

"He is aware of the political situation. Let's leave it at that," Najib told reporters at a joint press conference after the meeting.

When Indian journalists sought his remarks, Antony declined to comment.

The Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), a non- governmental group, had organised a massive rally attended by over 20,000 ethnic Indians here on November 25 to protest their alleged marginalisation in this country. The allegation has been denied by the government.

Authorities took into custody scores of people following the assembly, declared "illegal" by the government. Five leaders of Hindraf are still in detention under the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows holding people without trial for a long period of time.

Discussions on ethnic issue

P. S. Suryanarayana

KUALA LUMPUR: India and Malaysia on Monday discussed the situation concerning Indian origin people in this country. No specifics were revealed by either side. Talks were held between Defence Minister A. K. Antony and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak.

Mr. Antony, here on a three-day visit for stepping up defence cooperation, later met Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar. He will call on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday.

Mr. Najib said: “I think the Minister [Mr. Antony] is aware of the political developments in Malaysia. We just leave it at that.”

Mr. Antony, the first senior Indian Minister to visit Kuala Lumpur after the Hindu Rights Action Force organised a rally to focus international attention on alleged “marginalisation” of Malaysian Indians, declined to give details. Malaysia has taken a firm line that the issues relating to ethnic Indians fell squarely within its sovereign jurisdiction.

Taking note of these “sensitivities,” Mr. Antony remained tight-lipped about the talks with his Malaysian interlocutors.

Unrelated to the issue, Malaysia renewed its invitation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to pay a visit here.

Talking to Indian journalists, Mr. Antony said “a stable Pakistan, a peaceful Pakistan is in our interest, [in] the region’s interest.”

He said: “We want normality to be established at the earliest in Pakistan. We hope so. That is our priority.”

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