Friday, March 28, 2008

Gov't rejects calls to release detained state legislator

Gov't rejects calls to release detained state legislator
Mar 28, 08 6:17pm
Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar today rejected opposition calls for the release of an ISA-detained state legislator, citing the need to uphold public security.

"We must react to the country's internal security and public order," Syed Hamid was quoted saying by the state Bernama news agency.

The opposition parties last week pressed for five ethnic Indian activists, including lawyer M Manoharan who won a seat in recent elections, to be freed from the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

Manoharan, standing for the DAP, was elected from his detention centre - soundly beating the government incumbent in the Kota Alam Shah state seat in the March 8 general elections.

Syed Hamid said Manoharan will be forced to sit out of the newly formed state assembly when it convenes.

"You definitely can't be at two places at the same time," he said.

The five are leaders of rights group Hindraf who were detained last December for organising an unprecedented mass rally claiming discrimination against ethnic Indians.

Police used tear gas, water cannon and baton charges to break up the November protest, which drew at least 8,000 people.

The opposition, which now controls more than a third of parliamentary seats, has said it will seek to repeal the ISA - which dates back to the British colonial era when it was used against communist insurgents.

It is currently being used to hold more than 100 people, including about 80 alleged Islamic militants.

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