Impossible to ratify ICERD, says Mahathir

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament will be needed to amend the constitution. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says it will be impossible to ratify a United Nations rights treaty as it involves amending the Federal Constitution, the New Straits Times (NST) reported.

And for that to happen, the prime minister said that a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament would be needed.

“This is almost impossible given the current number of MPs from the government as well as reaction from both the opposition and Pakatan over the matter,” he was quoted by the English daily as saying, when asked to comment on the government’s pledge to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

Mahathir was speaking to the media after concluding his two-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in Papua New Guinea.

Several Pakatan Harapan leaders including Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman have spoken out against ratifying the treaty.

Top leaders from PAS and Umno have also spoken out against it.

The treaty provides individuals worldwide with a mechanism for complaints on issues of racial discrimination, among others, and is enforceable against member states.

Specifically, it obliges parties to eliminate racial discrimination in all forms including in public institutions as well as in government policies.

Detractors say ratifying ICERD will undermine the special position of the Malays, including provisions to allow quotas in public institutions, as spelt out in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

They are also opposed to the ICERD’s timeframe on member countries to end affirmative action programmes, which they say would be a death knell for Malaysia’s decades-old Bumiputera policy.

In October, Mahathir said that Malaysia would eventually sign the treaty although he admitted it would not be easy.

Mahathir said negotiations must first be held with all communities as there “are so many races and they are sensitive about certain things”.