ICERD: Why rally when Malay rights already guaranteed, ex-MP asks

Former Sungai Benut MP Tawfik Ismail disagrees with Putrajaya’s decision not to ratify the ICERD.

SUBANG JAYA: A former Umno MP has questioned the need for both PAS and Umno to take to the streets over the ICERD.

Former Sungai Benut MP Tawfik Ismail said it was pointless for both parties to carry out the rally against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as the rights of Malays were already protected under the Federal Constitution.

“It is pointless (to hold the rally). I do not think they have anything to fight for. Their rights are already preserved.

“It does not make any difference to the rights of the Malays if ICERD is ratified.

“They should not rally. What are you rallying for, unless you are having a motorcycle rally?” he said after attending the second Tan Chee Khoon lecture at Holiday Villa, here, yesterday.

Tawfik was asked to comment on both PAS and Umno’s decision to go ahead with the planned Dec 8 rally, even after Putrajaya had said that it would not ratify ICERD.

However, both parties had said that it would be a thanksgiving rally instead of a protest.

The Prime Minister’s Office had issued a statement stating that the PH government would not ratify the ICERD and would continue to uphold the Federal Constitution, in which the social contract was agreed upon by representatives of all races in the formation of the country.

Critics had said ratifying ICERD would 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.

Malaysia is one of 14 countries that have yet to ratify the ICERD, alongside the likes of North Korea, Myanmar and South Sudan.

Tawfik disagreed with Putrajaya’s decision not to ratify the United Nations convention.

“I think it’s wrong that they are not ratifying it. I think ICERD doesn’t affect anyone’s rights. They should have gone ahead with it.

“The government needs to discuss with the stakeholders, and take the politics out of it.

“It is disappointing it has not been ratified. You cannot really put yourself in the same position as North Korea and Myanmar. Why should you be associated with them? (We should) lump ourselves with the Middle Eastern countries supporting ICERD,” he said.

Tawfik agreed that Pakatan Harapan (PH) could have handled the issue better, adding that the foreign minister should have a bigger say as to how it was being orchestrated as he was the one involved in the United Nations (UN).

The debate over the ICERD erupted following a speech by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the United Nations General Assembly in September, where he said the Pakatan Harapan government would ratify the remaining human rights conventions endorsed by the world body.

The United Nations convention provides individuals worldwide with a mechanism for complaints over 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.