From Our Member Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia – Malaysia is Convinced that ICERD is Ready to be Ratified
26 October 2018 4:00 pm
Pusat KOMAS welcomes the remarks by the Minister of National Unity and Social Wellbeing, YB Senator Waytha Moorthy, that “The Government is committed to ratify six treaties including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in the first quarter of next year” at the 8th National Conference on Non-Discrimination: Malaysia Closer Towards ICERD Ratification that concluded this week in Petaling Jaya.
The 8th National Conference on Non-Discrimination was organized to encourage the government of Malaysia to expedite the process of the ratification of ICERD, to learn and emulate the best practices from countries in the region that have ratified the ICERD, understand the concerns on the ratification of ICERD in Malaysia and identify solutions and way forward that would expedite the process of the ratification of ICERD in Malaysia. Participants of this year’s vibrant conference included representatives from the Government, Elected State Representatives, the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), SUHAKAM, civil society organisations and those from academic backgrounds.
This year’s conference was historic on many fronts in which a Minister has attended and actively engaged with the participants of the conference since it’s inception in 2011. The Commissioner of SUHAKAM, Mr. Jerald Joseph in his opening address stressed that the Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto is in line with Article 1 of the ICERD (i.e., Pakatan Harapan Government will ensure our nation’s wealth are shared more equitably by the Bumiputera and every citizen regardless of race and religion, including, especially the Indians and the Orang Asal). Furthermore, the other promises enshrined in the Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto are coherent with the standards and principles of ICERD. He also stressed that the ICERD does not discriminate; but upholds the principles of equality and fairness for all.
This conference has also heard views on the concerns on the ratification of ICERD in Malaysia such as Article 153 and the inconsistencies of the ICERD and the Federal Constitution. One of the speakers, the AGC representative Dr. Salahudin highlighted that there should be an internalization process in the ratification of international instruments – where the instruments must be in context of the domestic law. The AGC’s role is purely advisory and they are looking for a clear direction from the new government on the ratification of ICERD and to oversee the difficulties within the Federal Constitution and existing Laws.
Acknowledging the concerns on the ratification of ICERD in Malaysia, the Minister believed that the international convention could be signed with reservations. Furthermore, he believes that the Government will need to modify several existing legislations and policies before ratifying the ICERD; but, maintains that dialogues will be held with the main stakeholders to discuss this matter.
Prof. Dr. Ong Puay Liu, Principal Research Fellow with Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), National University Malaysia, suggested that Malaysia has indicated that it is ready to commit itself to eliminating all forms of racial discrimination and to promote understanding amongst all races. This is reflected in Malaysia’s decision to join the United Nations in 1957 and signed the UN Charter 1945 and Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. Furthermore, Malaysia has endorsed the statements of the Conference Against Racism 2001. In addition, Indonesian Professor Harkristuti Harkrisnowo highlighted that, Indonesia, being the 4th most populated country in the world, with more than 400 languages and dialects and more than 300 ethnic groups, multiple religious and belief systems, is able to successfully ratify the convention in 1998. The signing and the ratification of ICERD has led to the establishment of several institutions aimed to promote cultural mutual understanding and prevent resurgence of ethnic conflict in Indonesia. This has helped in promoting unity and harmony in Indonesia.
With all this in mind, Pusat KOMAS believes that Malaysia is ready to sign and ratify the ICERD. The signing and ratification of ICERD would set the minimum standard of conduct on the government’s part to overcome racism, promote education against racism and create policies to stop hate speech in Malaysia. We call upon the Pakatan Harapan Government to expedite the process of the ratification of ICERD in line with the Pakatan Harapan manifesto and to continue engaging with the stakeholders, including members of civil society in that process. We are fully cognisant of the reality in Malaysia and strongly believe that we can work through the signing and ratification of ICERD with everyone in Malaysia.
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