A visibly amused Abdullah shook hands and greeted the activists at the Hari Raya open house in PWTC hosted by him and his cabinet ministers.
Abdullah was smiling throughout as he shook hands and exchanged small talk with the activists, as his jittery bodyguards looked on.
“He asked how I was and remembered we met in August,” said blogger and lawyer Haris Ibrahim.
“I replied by saying ‘Please, please, please, please, please abolish the ISA.”
Haris led a group of about 20 bloggers who wore T-shirts bearing ‘No to ISA’ and ‘Free RPK’ in reference to the two-year ISA detention of Raja Petra Kamaruddin.
These activists were soon followed by another bigger group from Hindraf – numbering some 200 and wearing bright orange T-shirts – who had wanted to deliver the same message to the premier.
However this second group’s effort was hindered by police who insisted that only a small number of them can be allowed to meet the prime minister up close. Subsequently about 20 of them met up with the premier.
Led by K Shanti, the wife of Hindraf leader in exile P Waythamoorthy, the group handed Abdullah a teddy bear bouquet and a large Hari Raya card.
“I asked him when my husband could come back safely and he replied ‘so you are the chairperson’s wife’. He said that he would look into,” said Shanti.
Hindraf’s Hari Raya card however was badly torn after police tried to confiscate it at the entrance to PWTC. After a minor scuffle, the Hindraf activists managed to hang on to it.
“In the spirit of forgiveness during Aidilfitri celebrations, we wanted to express that the Indian Malaysians forgive him for sending Hindraf leaders to Kamunting,” added Shanti, when asked about the content of the card.
Both groups stressed that their activists did not eat any of the food offered during the event, which the government host annually, because their sole intention was to send a message to Abdullah.