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Hindraf’s class action suit gets London hearing on Thursday

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi’s class action suit in a British court will be heard on Jan 19, 2017, in London, according to a statement from the NGO.

The case, filed on behalf of descendants of indentured labour in Malaya (peninsula), will be heard at the Court of Appeal at the Royal Court of Justice, The Strand, at 9 am.

The class action suit was filed by Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy.

Hindraf secretary P Muniandy said in the statement that those wishing to follow live the court hearing could do so via Hindraf’s Facebook page from 5 pm on Jan 19.

He said Waythamoorthy was currently in London, with Hindraf counsel Karthigesan Shanmugam, to brief senior barristers and solicitors on the case.

Waythamoorthy filed the appeal to prove that at no time was the British Queen the Queen of Malaya.

“The decision insulted the dignity of the Malay Rulers who were, independently, sultans of nine states,” said the statement. “The sultans were merely receiving advice of the Governor of the Federation of Malaya by virtue of the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948.”

Waythamoorthy, meanwhile, said in a telephone interview that “we need to set the record straight”.

Otherwise, he cautioned, Malaysians would be misled into thinking that the British Queen was the monarch of pre-independent Malaya.

Elizabeth II had acted as the Queen of the United Kingdom, at all times, and hence was liable for the neglect shown by her officers and government towards the Indian community, “enslaved for almost 200 years” in Malaya.

The statement was referring to Justice Nicholas Blake’s ruling previously that the Queen was acting in 1957 as the Queen of Malaya, and not the Queen of the UK.

Hence, the judge reasoned, Hindraf’s class action suit should fail on that ground alone.

The judge cited additional reasons, including that there was no duty of care by the UK government towards Indians in Malaya in 1957; even if there was duty of care, the UK government did not breach those duties; and there was no special relationship between the UK government and Indians in Malaya to render the UK liable for the lack of protection afforded in the Constitution given to Malaya.

The class action suit was heard at the High Court in London on March 30, 2016 and April 1, 2016.

The High Court struck out the claim on the grounds the claimants had no real prospect of success and there was no compelling reason why the case should be disposed of at a trial.

The class action suit seeks reparations and certain declarations from the British court “for the injustices suffered by the descendants of indentured labour who were uprooted from their native India and displaced in Malaya”.