PARTS of the previous administration’s National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) may make their way into the proposed panel on harmonious relations, which the Pakatan Harapan Government is now pushing for.
In an immediate reaction to the Royal Address, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said moderation and respect were crucial in the nation’s multi-religious society.
“In all matters, we need to have moderation in our religion and be considerate to those who are different from us. And others should also respect our religion,” he said at the Parliament lobby after the opening of the 14th Parliament yesterday.
There would be negative consequences, he warned, should such an approach not be taken.
“If we start to disrespect other religions, then we have to accept the consequences,” he said.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said some parts of the NUCC would be incorporated into the proposed formation of the Consultative Council on Harmonious Relations.
Dr Mujahid, who used to be a member of the NUCC, said he supported the setting up of such a council and expressed his readiness to give his input.
“Elements of the NUCC will be incorporated into the new council. The whole idea is about proactively engaging to stop racial discrimination, acting on equality and most importantly, dealing with hate crime,” he added.
Dr Mujahid, however, said whether “this be turned into a Bill or just a policy statement, we would wait for the Government to do that under the National Unity Department”.
While the NUCC had drafted three Bills – the Racial and Religious Hate Crime Bill, the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill and the National Harmony and Reconcilia-tion Commission Bill – none of them ever made it to the Parliament.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the council’s formation was included in the Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto to ensure harmonious racial and religious relations could be defended and improved on.
“I think it will take some time to study the implementation of the council,” said Loke, adding that he was confident that this would ultimately be put into place.
Defence Minister and Parti Amanah Negara president Moha-mad Sabu said he supported the call to strengthen unity and religious relations.
“It (the council) will be discussed first at the party level before this is brought to the Cabinet to determine its framework,” he said.
Kubang Kerian MP and PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said although such a council was necessary, more efforts should be made to address the current state of race relations.
“If this is not solved – although we have a council, it will be a rubber stamp body. It will look nice on the outside but nothing on the inside. The idea is good but we need to look at the root of the problem.”
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