Meet me if you don’t understand ICERD, says Mujahid

PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa has urged critics of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to meet him to get a better picture of the treaty’s contents.

He said there was a danger in spreading information about ICERD without getting a good understanding of the issue, adding that it would cause anxiety among the public.

“It is very dangerous if this misunderstanding is spread continuously, as it involves racial and religious unity,” said Mujahid, adding that he hoped Youth leaders from Umno and PAS would meet him.

The debate over ICERD has intensified recently with some groups claiming that the special rights of the Bumiputera, as well as the positions of the Malay language and Islam, would be undermined if Malaysia ratifies the treaty.

Last week, the minister in charge of national unity P Waythamoorthy said Malaysia could still sign the convention while retaining reservations on certain provisions.

Article 153 of the constitution provides for the special rights to Bumiputeras, but critics say this is contradictory to ICERD’s Article 2.2, which states that any step to develop or protect a certain racial group must be stopped after a certain period of time.

ICERD also compels its signatories to use affirmative action policies “if it is reasonable”, and limited within a timeframe.

Mujahid said ratifying ICERD would not impact provisions in the constitution.

“This means that if we sign or ratify ICERD, it will not change what is already being practised at present, except for related laws which must be brought to Parliament,” he added.