From left: R Kengadharan, P Uthayakumar, K Vasantha Kumar, V Ganabatirau dan M Manoharan.
PETALING JAYA: Five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders have been arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The five are P. Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, R. Kenghadharan, V. Ganabatirau and T. Vasanthakumar. They were picked up at various locations in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Seremban.
It is learnt they were detained under Section 8 (1) of the ISA after Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdulah Ahmad Badawi signed their detention order. Their detention is for two years. Uthayakumar and two others namely Ganabatirau and P. Waythamoorthy were charged under the Sedition Act on Nov 23 in Klang 23 for allegedly making speeches to incite hatred at a gathering in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor, on Nov 16. Waythamoorthy is currently overseas.
Under Section 73 (1) of the ISA, the police can detain any individual for up to 60 days without a warrant, trial and without access to legal counsel if he was suspected to have “acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof."
After 60 days, the Minister of Home Affairs can extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely.
The five detained
1) P. Uthayakumar - The 46-year-old lawyer was called to the Malaysian Bar on Jan 23, 1993. He is the legal advisor to the Police Watch and Human Rights Committee and advisor to the Malaysian People's Reform Party (Parti Reformasi Insan Malaysia or PRIM). He had been a secretary of the MIC Club in London and has appeared in a number of cases related to police abuse, deaths in police custody, police shootings and police inaction. He had also taken part in the reformasi campaigns in support of sacked Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
2) M. Manoharan - The 46-year-old Manoharan has been a lawyer for 15 years and was a legal assistant to Karpal Singh for 10 years before branching out on his own. He has been in the DAP and had contested in a parliamentary seat in Federal Territory and was also the Selangor DAP chairman for a short term.
3) V. Ganabatirau - Advisor to the DAP's Sri Muda branch in Shah Alam.
4) R. Kenghadharan - He is a lawyer and was one of the counsels for Uthayakumar when the latter was charged in court for publishing a seditious letter in a website.
5) T. Vasanthakumar - The former bank officer resigned about a month ago after his employers asked about his involvement with Hindraf. He is in his 30s and single. He is now a full-time Hindraf activist and its organising secretary.