Mayor gives approval for anti-ICERD protest, slash celebration on Saturday

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad speaks during the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2018. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR / AFP)

Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) has officially given the go-ahead for an anti-ICERD protest planned along Jalan Raja, in the afternoon, on Saturday, December 8. Mayor Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan has said that the OK was given on the basis that the gather was to be conducted peacefully.

For those of us in need of a refresher, in September, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told a UN General Assembly that his Pakatan Harapan government would ratify the what remained of the UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

However, for many groups, including protest organizers Ummah and Sekretariat Kedaulatan Negara, Malay-Muslim NGOs, and for both opposition parties PAS and UMNO, the pledge to end racial discrimination became a hot button issue, where some saw a gateway to erode policies that favor Malaysia’s majority Malay population. An affirmative action policy for 60% of the population was adopted after deadly race riots in the 1960s, and is protected by the country’s constitution.

After much ado, the PH government announced that they would, in fact, not be ratifying ICERD, but that hasn’t stopped the anti-ICERD crew, who quite possibly have nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than march on the premise of protesting something that isn’t actually happening. Organizers have since said that it will be “a celebration” [Editor’s Note: Of the status quo?].

Tawfiq Ismail, a former UMNO MP and son of a former deputy PM, went on the record with Free Malaysia Today stating that he did not agree with the party’s anti-ICERD stance, reminding everyone that “Malay rights are already protected. It does not make any difference to the rights of the Malays if ICERD is ratified.”

Reason, logic, and the rule of law went unheeded, and the sitting government backtracked on their UN promise last week. Malaysia will now join 14 other “luminary” countries in not having signed on to ICERD, including North Korea, Myanmar and South Sudan.

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