Some 2,000 Indian Malaysians gathered at the Waterfall Temple in Penang on New Year’s Day to pray and call for the release of the five Hindraf leaders held under the ISA.
A barber was in attendance at the temple premises to shave the heads of about 50 people, including one woman, who decided to go bald to emphasise their call for the release of the Hindraf Five.
One of those present told me that about 200 devotees carried paal kodum (milk pots), again as a sign of solidarity with the detained leaders.
A group of them later carried a banner with the words “PUBLIC NEED the TRUTH ANSWER direct from our beloved king. Release or charge the five ISA Detained Lawyers!”
Those present vowed that they would not give up until a solution was found.
My source tells me that similiar gatherings and prayers were also held in other temples in the country – in Sungai Petani, Kulim and Kuala Lumpur.
Recurrent gatherings like these indicate that Malaysians have now become politically awakened – and all the old assumptions now do not hold.
This adds a cloud of uncertainty over the prospects of the ruling coalition as we enter an election year.
POLITICS-MALAYSIA: Election Year Fraught With Multiple Troubles
Analysis by Anil Netto
PENANG, Jan 2 (IPS) – Malaysia enters what is widely expected to be an election year with its ruling coalition looking its frailest in recent times. Economic grievances, inter-religious disputes and unfulfilled pledges have spawned growing disillusionment with the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi that could erode popular support for the ruling coalition.