Report: Muslims-only, Chinese-only show Malaysia’s growing racism

Representatives of human rights groups and lawyers at the launch of the Malaysian Racial Discrimination Report 2017.

KUALA LUMPUR: Racism is rearing its ugly head even more now with Muslim-only or Chinese-only sentiments becoming more pronounced, according to a report by human rights group Pusat Komas.

The cover of the Malaysian Racial Discrimination Report 2017 released by Pusat Komas.

The Malaysian Racial Discrimination Report 2017, released today, said the government had reneged on its promises to promote national unity.

“In fact, racism has become more pronounced and is being increasingly used as a tool to divide and rule.”

It added that with the 14th general election (GE14) around the corner, politicians from both sides of the political divide had resorted to race-based politics to win support.

The 46-page report said the rise in racial and religious discrimination was not only worrying but also highlighted the inherent danger due to the overreach of bureaucratic Islamic institutions.

According to the report, 2017 saw an increase in incidence of racial discrimination.

Examples included a Muslims-only toilet at a highway, the seizure of paintbrushes made from pig bristles, separate drinking cups for schoolchildren from different religious backgrounds, a Muslims-only laundromat in Muar, Johor, and the no headscarf policy imposed by the hotel industry.

Other examples were job advertisements which stated “Wanted: Chinese only” and homeowners’ refusal to lease properties to potential tenants based on their race.

However, the report praised several prominent individuals for coming forward to condemn these actions, such as the rulers of Perak, Johor and Selangor, and the Malaysian Armed Forces.

It said there was a need to immediately ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under the United Nations to promote equality and unity among Malaysians.

Other recommendations included harsher punishment for individuals, especially politicians, groups and social media groups who were racist and discriminatory in their speech and actions.

The report also called on the government to uphold its promises and declarations to eliminate all forms of intolerance, discrimination and incitement of hatred based on religion and beliefs.