Malaysia issues arrest warrant against ethnic Indian leader

MalaysiaHindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P Uthayakumar has been charged under the Sedition Act. (Reuters)

Malaysian authorities have issued an arrest warrant against an ethnic Indian leader, who is contesting the next month's general elections, for failing to appear in a court hearing a sedition charge against him.

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P Uthayakumar has been charged under the Sedition Act. He faces three years in jail or a fine if convicted on the charge.

Uthayakumar, a candidate for the May 5 polls, said the warrant was issued despite submitting a medical certificate exempting him from court appearance from April 2 to May 17.

"I have a medical certificate from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) issued by a consultant neurosurgeon for a prolapsed disc and a small tumour on my backbone," the 49-year-old leader said.

Uthayakumar, who had been held under the controversial Internal Security Act after his group organised a massive anti-government rally in 2007, was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Dec 11, 2007, with publishing an alleged seditious letter on the 'Police Watch Malaysia' website addressed to then British prime minister Gordon Brown.

Uttayakumar and Hindraf have also been in news lately after he and his brother Wayathamoorthy, who is the chairman of the group, publicly announced diversion in their political views.

Wayathamoorthy has said that Hindraf would back Premier Najib Razak's ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional. Uttayakumar has said Wayathamoorthy has been sacked as Chairman of Hindraf.

Uthayakumar, who was awaiting arrest at his operations centre near here, said the campaigning would go on even if he was arrested and he would still contest in the polls. "My supporters will be carrying on with the campaigning and I will be contesting even if I am under detention," he added.

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