Dr Mahathir says the government will discuss ratifying Icerd with all races first.
About 100 representatives from Malay-Muslim NGOs today held a protest against Malaysia’s commitment to ratify the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd).
Chanting calls for Muslims and Malays to unite against alleged attempts to threaten the sovereignty of race and religion, the group’s representatives converged about a kilometre away from Parliament’s main gate.
“To hell with Icerd! Down with Icerd! We reject Icerd!” chanted the crowd.
They also lifted placards with similar messages warning against alleged attempts to sacrifice the nation’s sovereignty through ratification of the UN human rights convention.
The group also brought along a coffin that according to them symbolised the “death” of Malay-Muslims in the country.
At about 11am, the group was met by top PAS leaders, including party president Abdul Hadi Awang, deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and central committee member Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz, who accompanied the group’s representatives into the Parliament building to submit a memorandum to the government.
Also seen were several Umno Youth grassroots members.
Among the Malay-Muslim NGOs involved in the protest were Muafakat, Isma, Gamis, PPIM and Perkid.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government will seek to discuss the Icerd with all races in the country before ratifying the treaty.
The premier told reporters today that he had stated previously that adopting the convention would not be an easy task, as Malaysia is a multiracial country.
“We will sign it after we discuss (the matter) with all the races in Malaysia.
“I have mentioned in my speech (before this) that this (Icerd) would not be easy to be implemented in Malaysia because in Malaysia we have multiple races…everyone is sensitive towards certain issues.”
But Mahathir said there was no use talking about Malay special rights, adding that “Malay dominance” or “Ketuanan Melayu” was meaningless if the community was not in control of the economy.
“I tell the Malays that there is no point talking about ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ if you are a coolie. If you want to be a master, you can be one, but you must have knowledge, be hardworking, don’t cheat, don’t steal,” he said.
Mahathir then took a potshot at his rival.
“Don’t follow the example of the old prime minister,” he said.
The Icerd recently became a hotly debated issue after de facto National Unity Minister P Waythamoorthy said the government would ratify it in the first quarter of 2019.
This had created an uproar among several groups, including Umno Youth, who said that the Icerd contradicted the Federal Constitution in terms of bumiputeras’ special rights and would sideline the Council of Rulers.