PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has questioned how he will be able to attend a pro-human rights celebration tomorrow now that the government has taken an about-turn in ratifying ICERD.
“I decided that we will not accept ICERD (the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination).
“Suhakam (the Malaysian Human Rights Commission) wants to accept ICERD.
“So, how can I go?” asked the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman after chairing the PH Presidential Council meeting at Menara Yayasan Selangor.
He was flanked today by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and several other Cabinet ministers as well as PH component party leaders.
The Suhakam event, originally slated for today was moved to tomorrow instead. It originally listed Mahathir as launching the event and delivering the keynote address.
Chief secretary to the government Ismail Bakar was also scheduled to speak.
Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has since replaced Mahathir as the keynote speaker for the Suhakam event.
The event, which would have coincided with the anti-ICERD rally in the city centre today, was postponed following concerns of security risks highlighted by the police.
The anti-ICERD rally is taking place at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur from 2pm to 6pm. More than 30,000 people have already gathered there.
The Suhakam event, on the other hand, was to have been held from 9am to 3pm in Padang Timur near here with 3,000 people expected to show up. It will now be held at the same time and place on Sunday.
Mahathir today said the reason why the Suhakam event was advised to be held tomorrow was because of a lack of police personnel to monitor both the Suhakam event and the anti-ICERD rally at the same time.
“The police will have to divide their officers by sending them to two places. Since the rally has a lot of people, we asked that the (Suhakam) event be postponed to another day so that there is less pressure on the police,” he said.
Suhakam yesterday said the prime minister was not expected to attend tomorrow’s celebration due to the short notice, which the human rights commission has said is not a “counter-rally” to the anti-ICERD rally.
Suhakam has also said that Putrajaya appeared to be influenced by pressure tactics and extremism by changing the date of the rally. Its chairman, Razali Ismail, said if security risks were there, the onus was on the police to maintain security.
Asked if he would be going for the anti-ICERD rally, Mahathir said since the rally was being held to give thanks to Putrajaya for not ratifying ICERD, he only wishes to thank them for giving thanks but did not say if he would be going.
“I am grateful enough that I can make good decisions,” he said.
On the possible by-elections for the Cameron Highland and Rantau parliamentary and state seats in Pahang and Negeri Sembilan, the PH presidential council has decided to leave it to the incumbent PH parties which contested in the seats in the 14th general election to decide who their candidates will be.
“The candidates have not been decided yet. We leave it up to the party concerned to decide.
“They will also use the PH logo rather than the Keadilan (PKR) logo, but don’t say we are not ‘adil’ (fair),” Mahathir said to laughter from the room.
PKR and DAP fielded candidates for the May 9 elections in Rantau and Cameron Highlands respectively.
Meanwhile, on concerns raised by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho that he will not be given a fair trial because Mahathir’s government had “no regard for the rule of law” and therefore, will not return, Mahathir said this was not true.
“He must be not wanting to return because he knows he is guilty. So when he is (found) guilty then he can say it is not fair.
“But Malaysians are quite fair,” he said, adding there was no interference in the judiciary by the government.
This comes in the wake of a warrant of arrest issued against Loh in absentia by the courts on Tuesday in connection with the 1MDB scandal. He and his father were previously charged with money laundering in August.
‘Can’t work together?’
On rumours that PH’s four component parties are not able to work together some seven months into the new administration, Mahathir said this was not true.
He said his Cabinet members were able to talk things out so far.
“The rumour that we can’t work together is not true at all,” he said.
He also denied that a Cabinet reshuffle will be taking place anytime soon.