At a press conference in Komtar, Penang, I raised the following matters regarding the recent protests against the invitation of the former Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to Malaysia to participate in a international conference that was held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur.
First, despite more than 500 police reports made by various Tamils groups in the country for the organisers not to invite Rajapaksa, the Malaysian government rode roughshod over the feelings and sentiments of Tamils. Rajapaksa is considered a war criminal and was allegedly responsible for the genocide against Tamils in the north and east of the country during the civil war that ended in 2009.
Second, while we do not condone acts of violence against anybody, but the assault against Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ibrahim Sahib Ansar, had a background. According to reliable sources, when some Tamil youths approached Ibrahim at the KL international airport (KLIA) and asked about the whereabouts of Rajapaksa, he apparently replied: “We will wipe out the Tigers in Malaysia as we wiped out the LTTE in Sri Lanka.”
Such a hostile act, which is rather unbecoming of a diplomat, was responsible for the subsequent assault and detention of the five suspected assailants by the police.
Third, Ibrahim is no ordinary diplomat in Malaysia. He was allegedly sent to gather information of the activities of the Tamils especially those who are in support of the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam, a separate state for Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka. In the last few years he was allegedly responsible for coordinating information about Tamil refugees coming into the country and passing them to the Malaysian police.
Allegedly as a result, number of Tamil refugees have been deported back to Sri Lanka by the Malaysian authorities to face detention, torture and lengthy imprisonment in Sri Lanka.
Fourth, we strongly condemn the allegedly ‘unhealthy’ role of Ibrahim and that he is not suitable to serve as a diplomat in the country any more. While the police were overzealous in arresting the five protesters, they have remained silent on the alleged provocative statement made by Ibrahim. We want the Malaysian government to expel Ibrahim as soon as possible before he creates further problems between Tamils here and the Malaysian government.
Fifth, those who protested against the entry of Rajapaksa were ordinary Tamils. By and large, the protests were done in a peaceful and democratic manner. There were no standoffs with the police or any other authorities. But then it was wrong for the inspector-general of police (IGP), Khalid Abu Bakar to have labelled the protesters as sympathisers of the now defunct LTTE.
We urge the police force not create and complicate security matters in the country by ‘imagining’ into existence fictitious enemies.
P RAMASAMY is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and the state assemblyperson for Perai.