Suhakam: Small ethnic groups will disappear if majority stay silent

Godfrey-Gregory-Joitol-suhakam-1PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has warned that small ethnic groups in the country will slowly disappear if nothing is done to counter those who attempt to force their cultural practices on others.

Speaking at the 7th National Conference on Non-Discrimination Enjoyment of Cultural Rights in Malaysia for All at Hilton here today, Suhakam commissioner Godfrey Gregory Joitol said there were some in the majority race who are guilty of this practice.

“‘Enjoyment of cultural rights in Malaysia for all’ is quickly becoming meaningless due to strong pressure from some individuals in the majority race,” he said.

“However, we believe that there is still a silent majority among that group which does not prescribe to the practice of forcing their culture on others.”

He said the disappearance of smaller ethnic groups would occur if this majority remained silent.

“In Sabah and Sarawak, there are 32 small ethnic groups which will disappear if Malaysians don’t speak up, and this would be a loss to all Malaysians.

“Malaysia stands to benefit by preserving all cultures as each cultural group has strong values which can act as lessons for everyone.”

Also present was Suhakam commissioner Gerald Joseph who said it was important for all ethnic groups to be treated equally.

“These 32 ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak must mean something in Malaysia,” he said. “They must be equal to you and I.

“It doesn’t matter where you live, your votes and your thoughts must matter.”

Joitol said although Suhakam had urged the government to ratify many United Nations conventions on human rights, including the convention on the eradication of racial discrimination, none of its efforts had borne fruit yet.

Recently, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) moved to ban a planned beer festival in the city, citing cultural sensitivities as one of the main reasons.