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Uthaya offers prayers, thanks amid rising fears of re-arrest

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 18, 2009


By Wong Choon Mei

More than 3,000 supporters gathered at the Batu Caves temple to pray alongside Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar as he shaved off his long hair and beard in a thanksgiving ceremony for his recent release from government  incarceration under the oppressive Internal Security Act.

But even as the crowd welcomed the return of one of  the community’s best-loved sons, fear and trepidation that he may soon be  re-arrested was palpable in the way they pushed towards him to touch him and to protect him.

“I am no Mahatma Gandhi, I am no Nelson Mandela and I am no Martin Luther King, but it is the genuine grievances of the people which had brought about the Nov 25, 2007 protest,” Uthaya, the undisputed leader of outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force, told his supporters.

Yet as the 47-year old lawyer spoke, Special Branch police stood by and looked on. Last week, they served him a notice to attend a review of his release at the Kamunting Detention Centre on Tuesday, May 19.

Uthaya reiterated that he would not go even though the chances of him being re-arrested were high.

“I am a free man. Article 5 of the Federal Constitution says that no person may be deprived of life or personal liberty save in accordance with law,” he explained.

“I did not pen down my signature to the conditions set upon my release. When they told me of the conditions, I shut my ears so I could not hear.”

Release was just another Perak ruse, Uthaya is too influential to be freed

Uthaya was the last of five Hindraf leaders to be released from detention under the country’s notorious ISA, which allows for indefinite imprisonment without trial.

The five were arrested in December 2007 for organizing a mammoth rally a month earlier to protest the plight of their marginalised community.

Two were released in a gesture of goodwill when Prime Minister Najib Razak took office in early April.

The remaining three, including Uthaya, were suddenly and unexpectedly released on May 9.

The move was widely regarded as a ruse by Najib to mitigate the huge wave of unpopularity and public distaste his Umno-BN government had incurred following a controversial assembly sitting in Perak.

Uthaya angered prison authorities when he refused to sign their release letter. Among conditions set by the government is a prohibition on speaking at public gatherings.

Despite his defiance –  to avoid further negative publicity –  the government proceeded to free him along with the other two Hindraf leaders, M Manoharan and T Vasanthakumar.

Said his lawyer N Surendran: “Uthayakumar is a free man now. He is not obliged to attend the hearing because he is no longer under their jurisdiction of the Internal Security Act.”


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