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'Anti-Icerd rally a win for New Malaysia, but a setback for Harapan'

MP SPEAKS | The peaceful holding of the rally against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday is a victory for New Malaysia, but a setback to Pakatan Harapan.

As Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin rightly said after the rally, it was a demonstration that the Harapan government will always respect the rights of the people to speak and assemble peacefully, as long as these rights are practised according to the provisions of the law and the Federal Constitution.

The former Umno-BN government never recognised, respected and upheld the constitutional and democratic right of Malaysians to speak and assemble peacefully, as witnessed what happened to the five Bersih rallies from 2007 to 2016.

But there is a major hitch – the organisers of the of the anti-Icerd rally do not want a New Malaysia, which was born on the historic day of May 9. 

They do not want to reset nation-building policies to save the country from the trajectory of a rogue democracy, a failed state, a kakistocracy and a global kleptocarcy, and do not want Malaysians to give the country flesh, blood and soul to be a world top-class nation – united, democratic, just, progressive and prosperous.

The organisers of the rally came to destroy, not to create.

I say it is a setback for Harapan because it would not have happened if the Harapan government had handled the Icerd issue better.

As constitutional law expert Shad Saleem Faruqi has stressed most of the criticisms against Icerd have no legal basis.

“However, as hate and fear are potent weapons in politics, the perpetrators have succeeded in polarising society and raising the spectre of violence,” he said.

As Shad pointed out, Icerd is neither anti-Malay nor against the Federal Constitution.

Since yesterday, Malaysia has become a laughing stock, as 99 percent of the 1.9 billion Muslims of the world live in 179 countries which have ratified Icerd, including 55 of the 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) nations.

In an article by UKM research fellow Denison Jayasooria, he reviewed the ratification by OIC member states, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Palestine, and concluded: “As far as I note, none of them have objections or placed reservations in the name of Islam.”

Icerd also does not undermine the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, resulting in the abolition of the system of Malay rulers.

There are 38 countries with the monarchical system, out of which 36 countries have ratified the Icerd. There are absolutely no indications that the ratification of the treaty by these 36 countries have undermined the monarchical system as to lead to their abolition.

But as Malaysia is a plural society, it is of utmost importance that the unity and harmony of our diverse races, languages, cultures and religions must be the paramount goal of the nation.

For this reason, Malaysia should not ratify Icerd until the majority of the races and religions are comfortable with it, support it and understand that it poses no threat to the various races, religions or the constitution, but is a step forward to join the world in promoting human rights.

The Harapan government should not have allowed the organisers of the rally to hijack, twist and distort the Icerd debate with the toxic politics to incite baseless fears that the treaty is anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Malay rulers. 

This narrative camouflaged an agenda to allow those responsible for making Malaysia a rogue democracy to make a political comeback and to destroy efforts to create a New Malaysia.

This is a lesson the Harapan government must learn quick and fast, or both them and the great vision of a New Malaysia will be destroyed.

LIM KIT SIANG is Iskandar Puteri MP.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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