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New Malaysian party to give voice to Indian community

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 16, 2010:

A new party seeking to help uplift conditions of the ethnic Indian community in Malaysia plans to contest the next general election in the country.

The Human Rights Party of Malaysia (HRP) aims to be the alternative platform for the Indian community to improve their socio-economic status, Malaysia Nanban, a Tamil daily, reported Monday.

The HRP will field candidates in 15 parliamentary and 38 state assembly constituencies. Fielding candidates will give the party the political power to voice out its concerns of the Indian community, the paper quoted party secretary-general P. Uthayakumar as saying.

Multi-ethnic Malaysia is home to 1.7 million Indians, a bulk of them Tamils who settled here during the British era.

A dozen political parties vie for their support. The largest of them, Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC)), is a constituent of the ruling alliance, Barisan Nasional.

Uthayakumar was the legal adviser of the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

He was one of the five Hindraf leaders who organised a protest rally that was banned and had filed an action suit against Britain in 2007.

It claimed that British abandon the minority Indian community when giving independence to Malaya in 1957.

Charged with sedition and accused of having links with Sri Lanka's banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the five were detained under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA). None of their appeals to the court and to the government were allowed.

After he took office in April last year, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak released Uthayakumar and the other four. Hindraf remains a banned outfit.