THE five detained Hindraf leaders and Hindu temples were the issues that dominated most of the headlines in the Tamil dailies from 4 to 10 Oct 2008.
On 5 Oct, Makkal Osai reported that Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar warned Hindraf not to play with issues of religion and race. This was following the visit by a group of Hindraf supporters at the Muslim ministers’ Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house on 1 Oct.
The supporters had gone to the open house to ask the prime minister to release all Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees.
Syed Hamid said Hindraf’s actions had crossed the line and had to stop.
However, on 6 Oct, both Malaysia Nanban and Makkal Osai quoted PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as saying Hindraf’s action at the open house was democracy in action. He also said the leaders must look into Hindraf’s demands proactively.
Makkal Osai on the same day quoted Hindraf national coordinator RS Thanenthiran as saying the group would sue Malay daily Utusan Malaysia for reporting on the issue. Thanenthiran said he would be seeking legal advice on how to proceed.
On the following day, Malaysia Nanban reported that Hindraf leaders and supporters wanted an apology from Utusan Malaysia for its “unfair reporting”. The daily also reported that Hindraf supporters lodged a police report against Utusan Malaysia and Syed Hamid.
Malaysia Nanban on 8 Oct highlighted the two police reports by Hindraf supporters in Seremban and Malacca against Utusan Malaysia. The paper also reported the call by Ipoh Barat Member of Parliament (MP), M Kulasegaran, for the government not to ban Hindraf. He made this call in response to the demands by some ministers and deputy ministers for the authorities to do so.
On 9 Oct, Tamil Nesan reported that the Home Ministry planned to ban Hindraf. It quoted the ministry’s secretary-general Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof as saying that Hindraf was not a registered group, and the ministry was seeking legal advice on how to ban the group and its activities.
Makkal Osai’s and Malaysia Nanban‘s front page on 10 Oct quoted Deputy Home Minister, Senator Wan Ahmad Farid, as saying stern action would be taken against Hindraf supporters because of their actions at the open house.
Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy, according to Makkal Osai and Tamil Nesan reports, condemned Utusan Malaysia and TV3 for portraying Hindraf and its supporters in a bad light.
Calls for release of Hindraf five
On 5 Oct, Makkal Osai reported that MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu said he would not place any pressure on the government to release the Hindraf five. He also said the Home Ministry should be allowed to independently make its decision about the five.
However, on the same day, Tamil Nesan quoted Samy Vellu as saying the MIC would continue to fight for their release through continued dialogue with the government.
DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang’s call for the prime minister to release the Hindraf five before Deepavali on 27 Oct was carried by Makkal Osai on its front page on 6 Oct.
On 10 Oct, Makkal Osai reported that Gobind Singh, the Puchong MP, also wanted the five released before Deepavali. He added that newspapers such as Utusan Malaysia should stop portraying Hindraf as a terrorist group.
Reports during the week also showed the continuing tussle between Samy Vellu and Hindraf supporters.
In response to Samy Vellu’s demands that Hindraf leaders publicly disclose the accounts for money collected from the public, Perak Hindraf coordinator A Vethamoorthy challenged the MIC leader to first disclose the accounts of Maika Holdings and all other MIC projects. This was reported on 6 Oct in Malaysia Nanban.
Ampang temple to be rebuilt
Makkal Osai on 4 Oct reported that the Selangor government would rebuild the Sri Maha Kaliamman temple on Jalan Baru, Kampung Tasek in Ampang which was demolished by the local council. The report quoted Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jeyakumar.
Tamil Nesan on 8 Oct reported that the state had identified three alternative places to rebuild the temple but a decision would only be made after discussions with the temple committee.
The next day, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the state government would announce a specific measure soon to ensure temples were not demolished in Selangor. This was reported in Tamil Nesan on 9 Oct.
Xavier also announced that the Selangor government would approve one acre of land for temples in its future housing plan, which was reported by Makkal Osai on 6 Oct.