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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ethnic Indian leader arrested in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: In a major crackdown, Malaysian authorities on Tuesday detained at least 20 opposition activists when they tried to stage a protest in front of Parliament here against the extension of the tenure of the Election Commission chief, hours after a prominent ethnic Indian leader was re-arrested on sedition charges.
Opposition protesters wanted to demonstrate against the amendment to a law extending the tenure of, what they claimed, a "biased" Election Commission chief. Notwithstanding the protest, Parliament approved the amendment.
Police blocked all roads to Parliament as activists headed to assemble there, resulting in traffic disruption across Kuala Lumpur.
Backed by trucks mounted with water cannons, police detained 12 activists heading towards Parliament, said police officer Ahmad Sofian Yassin. At least eight other opposition workers were detained later in the area, activists said.
Sixteen opposition legislators staged a walkout in Parliament to protest the arrests.
Meanwhile, police re-arrested non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P Uttayakumar after he posted bail on a sedition charge today.
Uttayakumar, legal adviser of Hindraf, was first charged in the Sessions Court with posting a seditious letter on the group's website.
The lawyer pleaded not guilty before Judge Sabariah Othman, who fixed trial for next month. The lawyer posted a bail of 50,000 ringgit (Rs 5.9 lakh) with one surety. The judge also ordered Uttayakumar's passport be impounded.

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