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NGOs want end to racism

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PETALING JAYA: Several non-governmental organisations want Malaysia to end racial discrimination and sign a United Nations treaty on this.

They want the government to ratify a United Nations convention known as the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) as they are concerned over alarming level of racism in Malaysia.

ngo2Currently, 175 countries have ratified this convention that is effective since 1969. Malaysia is among the 16 nations that have neither signed nor ratified the ICERD.

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Signatory nations of the ICERD are required to minimise racial discrimination through the law and policies and condemn groups and organisations that continue to discriminate on the basis of race.

Pusat Komas, Islamic Renaissance Front and Projek Dialog are pushing for the ICERD because of seven major concerns.

“Recognising that Malaysia is a nation with a rich history of multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural harmony and coexistence, we are:

  • alarmed at the rise of communal and racist sentiments in Malaysian politics;
  • troubled at the rate of positive attention given to racist perspectives by the news media;
  • distressed at the emergence of exclusive ethnocentric ultra-nationalist organisations masquerading as patriots;
  • disturbed at the abuse of religion to legitimise racist and anti-democratic politics;
  • dismayed at the continuous persecution of religious minorities;
  • saddened by the continued absence of an inclusive conception of Malaysian identity; and
  • concerned about the lack of sustained attempts to foster real and meaningful conversations about diversity across Malaysians of varying cultures, religions and beliefs,” the NGOs said in an online petition

Apart from the ratification of the ICERD, the NGOs are also demanding that the government end racism in Malaysia.

Release all detainees

Pusat Komas non-discrimination programme coordinator, Lena Hendry, said, “Race and religion are politicised. This must end.”

Hendry also said that the affirmative action by the government that favours the Malay community needs to be reviewed.

“It is time affirmative action should be reviewed. In human rights perspective, it is allowed but must be time bound and reviewed periodically.

“Affirmative action must be implemented on the basis of need and not on the basis of race,” she said.

The group also urged for an end to political and racial exploitation of the news media that forces them to promote racist agenda because it contradicts media freedom.

They are also demanding that parties and individuals stop abusing religion to legitimise racism and at the same time end persecution of religious minorities.

They have also called for the release of all detainees who have been detained unjustly under draconian laws that provide for the detention of individuals for being allegedly a threat to national security and inter-communal peace.

They have also called for more dialogues to be held that would promote inclusiveness among Malaysian people.

FREE MALAYSIA TODAY