An Icerd post-mortem: What it meant to whom?

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The (plan to accede to the) Icerd is dead.

Over the next three articles, I will try to ascertain what the most important things the still-warm corpse of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) can teach us.

I think the most productive question to start with is not: “What is the Icerd?”, but “What is the Icerd to whom?” 

In this, we are reminded of the tale of the blind men and the elephant.

To progressives, activists, liberals, and many non-bumiputera, the Icerd was (if you’ll allow some exaggeration) some beacon of hope - a biblical pillar of fire perhaps - that was to lead the nation out of its racist dark ages and cement the idea of a truly new Malaysia.

To Umno, PAS, ultra conservatives and right-wing Malay/Muslim NGOs, it was painted as the devil incarnate to realise all the worst fear-mongering they’ve been fed for decades - that the non-Malays are the new colonialists, who as their new overlords, will destroy everything the Malays hold dear!

That was what they painted it to be, but to them, it was probably more accurately the biggest meal ticket to relevance they have seen since GE14.

To the government? It was a headache.

The facts: A relatively unimportant actuality

For the few objective Malaysians out there, the Icerd is of course none of these things (except possibly that headache).

I have cited Icerd proponent (and Rami Malek competitor) Yu Ren Chung’s article on the Icerd in not one but two of my previous articles, as an excellent summary of what accession to the Icerd would cost-benefithave objectively entailed for practical purposes - which I would in turn summarise as: nothing much...

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