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PUBLISHED: Mar 13, 2015 4:09pm

Restore Article 153 to arrest growing racism, says former Law Minister

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SUKHBIR CHEEMA By:
Sukhbir Cheema

Former Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim says Malaysia is not a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as it is not interested in racial equality. — TRP file pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 13, 2015 :

The original aim of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution must be restored to curb growing racism, a former Law Minister has urged.

In his blog post today, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim called for anti-discriminatory laws to be introduced and said the said Article should act as a safety net.

“The United Nation takes racial discrimination seriously, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is an international treaty to which most countries are signatories.

“We are not interested in racial equality, hence Malaysia is not a signatory to the Convention.”

The former Umno, and later Opposition politician reiterated that in Malaysia, racism meant that Malays and Muslims came first before others.

In explaining that such thinking was passable if it was in a personal domain, Zaid cautioned that the problem became alarming when legislation or public policies were shaped through such thinking.

“Racial and religious discrimination are not something we can ignore — it is not only repulsive to the human conscience, but will also affect national unity and our prosperity in the long term.”

The former Kota Baru lawmaker said racism gradually grew as the powers of non-Malays diminished in Barisan Nasional.

“Affirmative policies like the New Economic Policy (NEP) were rooted in good intentions and were instituted to redress economic disparities among the ethnic communities.

“However, as the political strength of non-Malays in the BN diminished considerably over time, these preferential policies morphed into entitlements for Malays,”

Slamming proponents of Malay rights for thinking that ethnic-based policies would assist the country in developing economically, Zaid quipped that if such thinking was true, Malaysia would have been as rich as Singapore.

Calling progressive political parties to bring forward anti-discriminatory laws for the next General Election, Zaid said this should be endorsed by those who wished to see Malays advance as well.

“If we value good governance, discriminatory policies must be abolished. If we want Malays and Bumiputeras to succeed, discrimination must be taken out altogether.”

Zaid explained that the current Malay first policy only produced weak, mediocre and corrupt leaders at all levels.

However, this could be tackled through new transparent and fair-minded policies by Malay academicians who would have better credentials and reputation if they were given the chance.

“The likes of Ridhuan Tee (academic Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah) will not be hogging headlines.”

He said capable Malay educationists should be manning the country’s academic institutions and not political appointees.

Zaid added no country in the world succeeded in the long-term by having such short-sighted policies of racial preference, regardless of the situation at hand.

“Why should Malaysia be the exception?”

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