Chaos at Dewan Rakyat over Waytha’s speech on ICERD

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy was forced to cut short his speech on a controversial UN treaty on racial discrimination today after opposition MPs in the Dewan Rakyat bombarded him with shouts of “racist” and “liar”.

Some of the MPs from PAS and Barisan Nasional (BN) also said Waytha had no right to speak on the issue, especially after the emergence of a video showing an interview he had given with a Dutch broadcaster 10 years ago.

The speaker was forced to shut down the microphones but even so, proceedings were brought to a halt.

“You are a racist minister. No need to talk,” said Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang).

Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (PAS-Kubang Kerian) meanwhile told Waytha to sit down, saying he was not qualified to answer on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

Due to the continuous shouting, Waytha said he would issue a written statement instead of an oral reply.

Waytha had begun his ministerial speech by giving his assurance that Article 153 of the constitution, which gives preference to Bumiputeras, would remain and would not be amended with the ratification of the ICERD.

At this point, Reezal Merican Merican (BN-Kepala Batas) said Waytha’s replies on the ICERD had been misleading.

“I want you to answer honourably. Is there a timeframe to do away with Article 153, as there could be pressure from the UN to do away with it? It involves our social contract.”

Waytha said there was no timeframe to amend Article 153, adding that he would like to give his personal opinion on the matter. The opposition MPs however told him not to include his personal opinion in the issue.

Waytha also said the attorney-general would reply on the issue.

Ismail Sabri (BN-Bera) then asked what would happen if the UN committee pressured Putrajaya to remove Article 153. But Waytha reiterated that the government would not do away with Article 153.

Reezal questioned the focus on the ICERD, asking why Waytha wanted it ratified by the first quarter of next year.

However, Waytha said his words were being twisted.

“What I said was only that the discussions on the issue would start in the first quarter of 2019.”

He added that he would like to continue his speech without further interruption, but the opposition MPs refused to listen.

Noh Omar also asked him to explain the apparent contradictions between his statements in the Dewan Rakyat and the video of his interview in Holland.

“In your video, you insulted Malaysia, you insulted Islam. Here in the Dewan Rakyat, you want to act as if you are a hero.”

After listening to other questions on the video clip, Waytha said Malaysia had no discriminatory policies but that the previous government had discriminated against the Indian community.

This caused another ruckus, with BN MPs calling him a “kuey teow minister” and demanding his resignation.

The speaker switched off the microphones, but his call for calm was still drowned out by shouts of “racist”.

Waytha said he wished to move on to another topic, but the opposition MPs did not allow him to continue speaking.