Malaysia is reportedly planning to set up a telephone hotline to handle problems faced by Malaysia's ethnic Indians, in a bid to defuse anger that erupted in mass protests a week ago.
Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang Friday criticised the idea as a token gesture that would do nothing to address the concerns of ethnic Indians who claim they face discrimination in a country dominated by Muslim Malays.
"It is a political ploy. It just shows they are not serious. I am outraged by the plan. It shows (the government) does not understand the magnitude of the Indian problem," he told AFP.
"Abdullah and the cabinet should seize the opportunity and help the Indians. They face structural problems," said Lim of the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party.
The hotline was unveiled by Samy Vellu, president of the Malaysian Indian Congress which is a component party of the ruling National Front coalition led by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who reportedly backed the plan.
"We expect calls on problems on Tamil schools and Hindu temples," Samy Vellu told the Star newspaper, adding that a committee would also be set up to address other problems faced by the community.
The destruction of hundreds of Hindu temples in recent years, to make way for development projects, is one of the factors credited with rallying ethnic Indians who mounted an 8,000-strong protest last Sunday.
Police dispersed the crowd with water cannons and tear gas, and witnesses said some demonstrators were beaten with batons.