GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy was a picture of calm today despite rumours of his possible arrest swirling over alleged links to a defunct Sri Lankan separatist group.
When FMT met him at his office in Komtar, his wife had called to ask if he wanted nasi lemak for dinner, to which he promptly agreed.
After hanging up, Ramasamy said: “So I hear I am going to be arrested. If they want to, go ahead. I am not a fugitive seeking asylum in this country,” he said with a laugh.
He believed the arrests of two DAP assemblymen in Negeri Sembilan and Melaka earlier today was likely pushed by supporters of Indian preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
Ramasamy alleged that Naik and his “disciples” have been going all out to tarnish his name by calling him a terrorist and reusing old pictures of his peace missions to Sri Lanka from 10 years ago.
“This is because I have been firm on Naik’s deportation. Certain groups are upset and have engineered fiction to smear me and others who are sympathetic towards the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Ramasamy said LTTE was long gone since 2009, with the Malaysian government fully aware of its defunct status.
He said what existed was sympathy over the bloodshed of Tamils in Sri Lanka due to persecution there.
“Now, tell me. I have supported the Palestinian cause, even Hamas, which is considered a terrorist outfit in Western countries. So am I a terrorist sympathiser now?
“Lest we forget, our government also sympathises with Hamas, to an extent, having a parliamentary session to support the Hamas cause.
“Why are there ‘triple standards’ when you can support the PLO, Rohingya Muslim groups, but when it comes to the Tamil struggle, it is illegal?
“Let me tell you, our fight is for the Tamils and has nothing to do with LTTE. Our struggle is larger than LTTE. There is no LTTE in Malaysia,” he said.
Ramasamy said he has given two separate statements to the police over his alleged links to LTTE last year, following close to 100 police reports over the matter.
He said as an Indian Malaysian of Tamil descent, he and millions of Tamils around the world are sympathetic towards their own in Sri Lanka, who have been persecuted for many years.
He said as a peace consultant for Aceh, Colombia, Mindanao and even Sri Lanka, he had never advocated bloodshed but peaceful settlement.
“Negotiations are the key. We met LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. I had to be familiar with both sides to understand the situation.
“Fast forward today, why is a just cause seen in terroristic terms? I have never supported an arms struggle. I have always advocated a political settlement. This is what I told the Tamil Tigers and Gerakan Aceh Merdeka,” he said.
Ramasamy said a picture of him paying respects to a AK-47 rifle was widely regarded as support of the LTTE but he said, in reality, it was different.
“It was a war memorial for our 100,000 Tamil brothers and sisters who had died in Sri Lanka. Why can’t we shed a tear for the departed and revere the dead?
“In Malaysia, it is alright to have Muslims sympathise for those who have been killed in wars. Why the double standards when we mourn the Tamils?”
Ramasamy said the latest arrests of seven people, including his two fellow DAP assemblymen in Negeri Sembilan and Melaka, was deplorable and they ought to be released right away.
He said the arrests were against Pakatan Harapan’s promise not to use draconian laws.
“The use of anti-terror laws on innocent people is disappointing when PH had promised to abolish draconian legislation.
“This is especially after all these years of supporting Pakatan Harapan, supporting Dr Mahathir, fighting against BN. Today, the guns are against us.
“I would ask the government to immediately release all those arrested unconditionally. There is not an iota of evidence against them and it is a shame to all peace-loving Malaysians out there.”