KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18, 2014:
The Court of Appeal’s recent decision to reduce the jail term of Hindu rights activist P. Uthayakumar for his sedition conviction and sentence by six months has found few friends in Hindraf.
“Uthayakumar should have been acquitted by the court instead of the sentence being reduced.
“He raised a legitimate issue in 2007 on the ruthless demolition of Hindu temples and he personally perceived those acts of the government as ‘ethnic cleansing’,” said his brother and former Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy.
He claimed the government should have acted responsibly in investigating the allegations by Uthayakumar instead of “silencing the voice of justice”.
Uthayakumar was sentenced to two years and six months’ jail by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court in June last year.
The court found him guilty of seditious remarks in a 2007 letter to then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which he had written in his capacity as legal adviser of Hindraf.
The former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee was of the opinion that the British government was responsible for abandoning the Malaysian Indians in then Malaya.
He held the British government responsible for failing to ensure the Hindu temples and the land rights of the Malaysian Indians were adequately protected in the Malaysian Constitution, resulting in them being a landless community.
“Thousands of Hindu temples built in the colonial era up to 150 years ago were demolished on the groundless allegations of being built without planning permission, as there were no planning laws or local governments then.
“The wanton destruction of these places of worships, and forcible eviction of poor Indians who had settled on those land for generations, was seen and perceived as an act of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the legal adviser of Hindraf,” said Waytha Moorthy.
Similarly, allegations that these temples were sitting on land belonging to the state were unsustainable as these lands were former estate/plantation land.
They were allowed to build temples and their settlement by the colonial British and Malay Rulers encouraged the migration of Indians into Malay states to man plantations, said Waytha Moorthy.
He said the Court of Appeal judges failed to see a crucial and fundamental aspect of human rights that was denied to a particular ethnic group, and that there was indeed racism and a new brand of “ethnic cleansing”.
“The Court of Appeal, in considering Uthayakumar’s appeal, should have scrutinised the whole contents of the said letter and its intentions, instead of just looking at the alleged offending words and forgetting the implied meaning behind,” he said.