Booing racist politicians not our stand, says Suhakam chairman

Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail says the call to boo politicians who make racist remarks is a personal opinion and not the commission’s stand. (YouTube screengrab)

PETALING JAYA: The chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) clarified today that it is not its stand to call on people to boo politicians who make racist remarks during election campaigning.

Razali Ismail said the call, attributed to fellow Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph yesterday, was the latter’s own opinion.

“I don’t want to bring out a climate where we take positions on race and interpret it in a different way,” Razali said.

Speaking at a forum organised by Pusat Komas, an NGO looking into issues of democracy and equality, Jerald said Malaysians should reject politicians who use race and religion to fish for votes.

“When politicians make campaign speeches, boo them if they laugh at any community or say something racist.

“It is time for Malaysians to reject those who bank on race and religion to win.

“Politicians should be addressing people as Malaysians and pushing for ideas that create unity,” he said.

Razali, Malaysia’s former chief diplomat at the United Nations, said he respected his fellow commissioner as a human rights activist, but insisted that booing racist politicians was not Suhakam’s view.

“He is a good man and I know some people are supportive of Jerald’s statement, but still it is not our stand,” he said, adding he will speak to Jerald today.

Before his appointment as Suhakam commissioner in 2016, Jerald served in several human rights groups such as the Commonwealth Foundation, Asian South Pacific Bureau for Adult Education, Asia-Pacific NGO Steering Committee of World Conference against Racism. He was also Pusat Komas’ director.

Besides Jerald, the other Suhakam commissioners are former judge Mah Weng Kwai, former National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Loke Yim Pheng, lecturers Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh and Aishah Bidin, along with Francis Johen and Godfrey Gregory Joitol.