The political situation in Malaysia is getting hotter recently. It was started with a demolition of an ancient Hindu temple by the Malaysian government late October, causing rage among Indian Malaysian community in Malaysia. Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), whom activists were being detained by the police when protesting against the demolition of the temple, staged mass rallies throughout last month and early this month, shocking the government and the nation. The rallies were highlighting the minority Indian Malaysians' complaints of discrimination by the ruling government, and almost all of the rallies ended with hundreds being arrested.
The claims of mistreatment against the Indian community were being denounced by Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who said that those claims were stirred up to create racial conflicts. It seems that the Malaysian government was trying all-out to curb the situation by performing mass crackdown on those who supported the rallies. They even charged 26 ethnic Indians with attempted murder of a policeman during one of the protests, with their bail being rejected. What's more, some of them were even accused of having links with terrorist groups.
And recently, seems that the crackdown has widen and is affecting not only the Indian Malaysians group, but also other groups such as lawyers and human rights leaders who were also staging street protests against the government on some other issues. Even Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition figure and former deputy premier who was being sacked during Mahathir's era, was also detained at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after returning from a trip to Turkey. This leads to the United States government to call on Malaysia to allow freedom of expression and assembly. They have repeatedly raised with Malaysian authorities their belief that citizens in any country should be allowed to peacefully asemble and express their views. But of course, Abdullah's stand is that public safety and security should take precedence above public freedom.
Seems that the issue is now getting more serious. Let's just hope that this issue does not cause the Malaysian government to forget that they still have some other important issues to take care, including the flood issue which has caused the death toll to rise and thousands to be evacuated.
The above picture is courtesy of ChannelNewsAsia.