LETTER | The rally was a step forward in freedom of expression, but a step backwards in everything else. It was a cold reminder of the side effects that were caused by our previous leaders, policies and behaviour.
Despite the new dawn in governance, we as the citizens of Malaysia still have a long way to go in terms of unity. Before we jump the gun and call the rally-goers racists, I believe we need to at least understand where their concerns are coming from. After all, we are Icerd supporters, right?
The fear of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) didn’t grow overnight. It was a result of 60 years of racial-based politics from the previous government, fear-mongering from the elitist wannabe of certain political parties and the historical skew of the British occupation.
Add to that a “white man’s liberal idea” and you’ve got yourself a crowd that believes their well-being is in jeopardy. A common thing to see in rallies like these are the videos of clueless rally-goers not even knowing what they are part of. It’s humorous no doubt, but it shines a light on another issue - misinformation.
Most, if not all, the anti-Icerd supporters were concerned that ratifying the declaration meant no more bumiputera rights, no more Malay Rulers and that it was a direct challenge to Islam. But what they failed to understand was that Icerd is merely a pledge, it doesn’t magically amend the Malaysian constitution.
No, Icerd isn’t here just to strip your bumi privileges and leave you hanging, it’s a pledge to end racial discrimination.
No, Icerd doesn’t strip the Maly rulers of their powers because they are protected under the Malaysian constitution.
No, Icerd doesn’t challenge the beliefs of Islam but rather champions it in equality.
These are the facts that the anti-Icerd rally goers missed out on, and it’s probably this same information that’ll change their mind. So, I am calling out to my fellow like-minded Malaysians - if we want people to start accepting the idea of Icerd, maybe it’s time we start selling this idea to them.
If people are making decisions based on inaccurate or emotionally-driven knowledge, give them the right facts so they can make an informed choice. It’s not our job to educate others on general knowledge, but it’s our collective responsibility to safeguard the harmonious relations between Malaysians.
Antonio Gramsci once said, “If the ruling class has lost its consensus, then that class is no longer ‘leading’ but only ‘dominating.’
Let’s not repeat the mistakes of our previous leaders and force our ideologies onto everyone without proper consent.
Let’s start discussing Icerd at an interpersonal level and spin the wheel of change. Ultimately, we could agree to the idea of the pledge but ensure it's executions is tailored based on the Malaysian context.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.