Details of Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy's meeting with American officials from the London embassy has been leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks today.
The information, contained in a cable from the United States embassy in London to the US State Department in Washington DC, was released by WikiLeaks through the British newspaper, The Telegraph.
According to the secret cable, Waythamoorthy did not intend to seek political asylum in the US, but was seeking “temporary” asylum in the UK.
“(Waytha) Moorthy also requested financial assistance for his human rights work, which, he claims, focuses on minority rights for the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia,” said the cable.
“He said that his work is especially important today, as Malaysia increasingly relies on Islamic shariah law either alongside or in place of Malaysian common law, and that Hindraf is the only Malaysian group working to combat such changes to the legal system.”
The cable summarised what took place at a June 25, 2008 meeting between Waythamoorthy, who was in self-imposed exile in London, and political officers from the US embassy.
He had stressed that he did not want permanent asylum as he wanted to return to Malaysia.
“He said that he hopes to return to Malaysia as soon as possible, as his family and law practice remain there, but will only return after the other imprisoned Hindraf leaders have been released,” said the cable.
The final three of five Hindraf leaders who were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act, including elder brother Uthayakumar, were freed two years ago.
According to the cable, he requested financial support to enable him to continue advocating Malaysian minority rights while abroad.
He also planned to set up a mission “to monitor and document human rights violations in Malaysia and to train her citizens in the investigation of human rights abuses”.
At the meeting, Waythamoorthy complained that his Malaysian passport was revoked by Kuala Lumpur, preventing him from travelling to the US.
“Moorthy believes that the Malaysian government revoked his passport to prevent him from furthering his and Hindraf's cause, and so that he would eventually be deported back to Malaysia.
“He asked whether the US would issue a travel document so that he may travel to the US (or Canada) to pursue his advocacy work on a temporary basis.”
US not in a position to offer help
He also claimed that London was slow in processing his asylum application so as not to upset the Malaysian government.
Wathamoorthy took pains to clarify Hindraf's position when the American officials told him that the US government did not support “politically-partisan organisations”.
“He ... explained that although Hindraf remains a predominantly Hindu advocacy group, it focuses on the expansion of democratic rights for all Malaysians, and is particularly involved in the advocacy of freedom of religion, educational equality, and equal rights for minorities.”
“Poloffs (political officers) explained that they were not in a position to offer assistance, determine whether Hindraf was a partisan organisation, or provide a travel document, but pledged to convey Moorthy's account of his status and the purpose of Hindraf to Washington and American embassy, Kuala Lumpur.”
The political officers who met Waythamoorthy also expressed doubt about his accusation that the UK was dragging its foot over his asylum application.
“It is too early to determine the accuracy of Moorthy's suspicion that HMG (Her Majesty's Government) is stonewalling his political asylum application.
“The (UK) Home Office (which determines matters of political asylum) moves very slowly as a general rule. Consequently, what Moorthy might view as a 'decision not to decide' may simply be bureaucratic inertia.”