KUALA LUMPUR — Ratification of the United Nation’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) will not affect Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy.
The minister, in charge of national unity and social wellbeing, said ratification of ICERD to make the country’s human rights record respected by the world was in accordance with the ruling Pakatan Harapan’s general election manifesto.
In a statement, Waytha Moorthy assured that the government would engage all stakeholders to obtain their views on ratifying ICERD.
“The government is not rushing to ratify ICERD as it wants to gather as much feedback as possible,” he said as he dispelled speculation that ratifying the convention was intended to challenge or abolish Article 153.
The Article touches, among others, on the special position of the Malays and Bumiputeras and the legitimate interests of other communities.
“In our context, we can ratify ICERD with reservations. We can either do it by the way of accession or ratification. Two options, we can choose whatever we want. In any event whichever option we take, it can be done with reservation,” said Waytha Moorthy.
“In line with our commitment towards the United Nations and in enhancing human rights, it would be advisable to ratify but with reservations, and ensuring the Federal Constitution is upheld with the intention of the original framers,” he explained.
The minister also said that ‘unfounded fear’ was causing many to speculate on the results of ratifying ICERD.
He assured that institutions, like MARA, and other agencies used to uplift the needy among the Bumiputera community would not be in any way affected by the ratification of ICERD.
“The Pakatan Harapan government is committed to safeguarding all provisions contained in the Federal Constitution. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has assured that Pakatan Harapan will defend the Bumiputera agenda and protect the Malay rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” he said.
Waytha Moorthy had said on Oct 24 that the government was committed to ratifying six treaties including the ICERD in the first quarter of 2019.