Mujahid: Malay, Bumiputera special rights not affected by ratifying UN treaty


MALAYSIA’S ratification of the United Nations (UN) anti-discrimination treaty will not erode the special positions of Malays and Bumiputeras as claimed by certain parties.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (picture) said the federal government’s intention to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is not in conflict with the constitutional position of the country’s largest demographic group.

“What has been said (about the ratification of ICERD) is slanderous and can incite hatred that will affect ethnic relationships in the country,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

He was responding to claims that the ICERD challenges Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and its guarantees of the special position of the Malays.

Mujahid reiterated that the ratification will not affect the laws embedded in the Federal Constitution, unless approved by Parliament.

“This means that if we sign the treaty, it will not change what is currently practised unless such laws are passed in Parliament which has to be debated beforehand. Malaysia can ratify with reservation, meaning we will adhere to existing laws and constitutions,” he said.

Last week, minister in charge of National Unity and Social Being, P Waytha Moorthy, gave his assurance that the government will consider the views of various groups before any ratification is made.

Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin had earlier expressed concerns that ratifying the UN treaty could affect Article 153 of the Federal Constitution concerning the special positions of Malays and Bumiputeras.

Civil group Lawyers for Liberty immediately dismissed the claim and called for the government to ratify ICERD without delay.

The group’s advisor and lawyer N Surendran pointed out that Malaysia has ratified similar international treaties, such as the Child Rights Convention, and expressed reservations when there were conflicts with the Federal Constitution.

He said most other countries that have so far ratified the ICERD have also entered reservations or declarations limiting or clarifying the application of certain articles to their respective domestic situations, citing Singapore as an example.

“For Malaysia to be a proud member of the international community, it is imperative to ratify at once the ICERD. This is also consistent with Pakatan Harapan’s commitment to adhere to international norms and standards, and to ratify critical international conventions,” he said.