Home Civil Society Voices Hakam supports ratification of ICERD, denounces recent threats of racial unrest

Hakam supports ratification of ICERD, denounces recent threats of racial unrest

Malaysia is one of only a handful of major countries (in red) that have neither signed nor ratified the ICERD - Graphic: Wikipedia

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Hakam welcomes the government’s recent proposal to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Malaysia.

Hakam also supports Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s commitment to have prior consultations with all stakeholders so that any unfounded fears are allayed. And to ensure that the integral facets of the Federal Constitution are upheld.

The substantive aim of racial equality under the convention is aligned with the principle of equality and non-discrimination, guaranteed under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

Ratification of the convention ensures state responsibility in addressing rampant racial discrimination in this country, including academically documented discrimination of bumiputeras in the private workforce. It also holds Malaysia accountable to the international community in its quest for racial equality.

The purported threat to special privileges and affirmative action towards the Malays under Article 153 is unfounded. Article 1(4) and 2(2) of the convention itself allows for “special measures”, which include affirmative action. Affirmative action or “special measures” under the convention are in fact regarded as an integral part of the concept of equality and do not constitute “racial discrimination”.

It is also important to note that the inter-state complaint mechanism under the convention was triggered by Palestine in April 2018 to hold Israel accountable for its discriminatory practices against Palestinians. For a nation which has all along been united in condemning Israel’s atrocities and racial discrimination against Palestinians, it is imperative that Malaysians practise what we preach.

Hakam further calls for a rational, objective and peaceful discussion from all parties on the ratification of the convention.

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Hakam deprecates any threats of the creation of unrest to prevent a rational discussion of the need to ratify the convention. Concomitantly, the Malaysian government must educate and constructively engage the public on the convention.

The Malaysian government is not alone in this journey. Hakam believes that many civil society organisations wholeheartedly support the Malaysian government in this endeavour and will provide all the assistance they can.

Lim Wei Jiet is secretary-general of Hakam. This statement was issued on behalf of the Hakam executive committee.

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