Malaysians won’t want ICERD ratified at the price of another May 13 riot, Kit Siang says

Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
Lim warned Malaysians that the vision of a 'new Malaysia' would fail if they allowed political opportunists to exploit the issue of race and religion for their own agenda. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today suggested that there were groups seeking to incite racial and religious distrust, and that many Malaysians did not want the ratification of the International Covenant Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to avoid a possible repeat of the bloody May 13 racial riots in 1969

In a statement, Lim described Putrajaya’s announcement as a setback and warning to all Malaysians that the vision of a “new Malaysia” would fail if they allowed political opportunists to exploit the issue of race and religion for their own agenda.

“No Malaysian would want Malaysia to ratify the ICERD at the price of another May 13 racial riot in the country, as there is no doubt that there are irresponsible elements which are seeking to incite and escalate racial and religious distrust, animosity and hatred to engender the conditions to replicate another May 13 racial riot in Malaysia,” he said.

Lim again questioned the opposition towards the ICERD, pointing out that Malaysia and Brunei are the only two countries out of 57 countries in the
Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) that have not ratified it.

“The ICERD issue is a warning to all Malaysians that their ‘New Malaysia‘ vision which was the cause of the historic May 9, 2018 decision which saw a peaceful and democratic transition of power for the first in six decades, and gave hope to the world that democracy as a system of government to achieve freedom, justice and good governance for  the people in the world, can still fail if we allow political opportunists and desperadoes to exploit the toxic politics of lies, hatred, race and religion to the extent of unleashing racial and religious conflicts,” the Gelang Patah MP added.

The treaty had divided public opinion nationwide, with Umno and PAS leading calls for its rejection on grounds that it was unconstitutional, insinuating that its ratification would spell the beginning of the end of political power held by the Malay-Muslim demographic group purported to have been agreed upon by Malaysia’s forefathers in a “social contract” at the nation’s founding.

Several groups that had supported the ratification had expressed their dismay with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s latest stance, calling it a backwards move.

On Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying the government will not ratify the ICERD, and will instead continue to defend the Federal Constitution “in which is enshrined the social contract that was agreed upon by the representatives of all the races during the formation of the country”.

Umno and PAS have both confirmed that they will still carry on with the anti-ICERD mass rally on December 8, but it will now be a victory gathering which will consist of prayers and speeches.

Malaysia is among 14 countries that have not signed or ratified the ICERD. Other nations include Brunei, Myanmar and North Korea.

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