‘Harmony Bills the right step forward’

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 21 Jun 2014

PETALING JAYA: The proposed National Harmony Bills is the right step forward in answering challenges faced by the nation, which can be improved with minor amendments, said MCA Youth Legal Bureau chairman Choo Wei Sern.

“The Harmony Bills provide an alternative to the existing provisions under the Penal Code, which are unclear. The offences under the Bills are an addition to those under the Penal Code and will further deter potential offenders,” said Choo in a statement here yesterday.

The Bills’ main purpose was to promote unity, he added, and conformed to inter­national practices.

However, he said a few improvements could be made to the Bills, among which was to combine these into one Act of Parliament for easier reference and to avoid confusion.

The National Harmony Bills drafted by the National Unity Consultative Council comprises the Racial and Religious Hate Crime Bill, the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill.

The term “various stakeholders” whom the Prime Minister should consult before advising the King to appoint under Section 10(3) of the National Harmony and Reconciliation Com­mission Bill was also too vague, said Choo.

“There should be clearer indication on the areas and aspects from which these stake­holders are chosen so that the Commission will not only punish offenders but educate and promote unity and equality,” he said.

He also pointed out that the Unfair Discrimination Tribunal constituted by the proposed National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission, although in line with Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission and Kenya’s National Gender and Equality Commission, lacked bite in terms of power to provide private remedy.

“The tribunal should impose some form of fine or direction for public apology in the event of unfair discrimination. Community service should be an alternative to imprisonment and fines,” he said.

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