Dr M: Impossible to ratify ICERD

Picture perfect:  Dr Mahathir receiving a token of appreciation from the Muslim community during his visit to the Hohola Mosque after attending the Apec summit in Papua New Guinea. –Bernama

PORT MORESBY (Papua New Guinea): Implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) will entail amending the Federal Constitution and this is an almost impossible thing to do, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Bernama reported the Prime Minister as pointing out that a two-thirds parliamentary majority was needed for this to happen.

This, he said, was nearly impossible with the current composition of the Dewan Rakyat as well as the reaction shown over the matter from both the Opposition and members of the government.

“Only with the support from the Opposition can we have a two-thirds majority and even then, government members themselves may not support (it).

“So, I feel it’s almost impossible for us to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary (to amend the constitution),” he told Malaysian media at the end of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 2018 meeting here yesterday.

It was reported that Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had both expressed reservations about ICERD while both Umno and PAS planned to organise a joint rally next month.

Dr Mahathir acknowledged that ICERD was sensitive to the Malay community and the government was not rejecting the views expressed by the people on the matter.

“This matter is sensitive to the Malays, we understand that. In my speech at the United Nations (general assembly), I mentioned about the complexity of implementing ICERD.

“So, we didn’t commit that we are going to do it,” he said.

Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had also said that the Malay-Muslim community would “run amok” to protest.

To this, Dr Mahathir said: “Unless Zahid stirs up trouble, there will be no riot (over ICERD).

At the PKR congress in Shah Alam, party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government needs to assure Malays they would not lose their special rights, as well as the position of Malay Rulers and that the Malay language would not be undermined.

“People want to know that their rights are protected as enshrined in the Constitution,” said Anwar.

He hit out at PAS and Umno, saying that both parties were exploiting the ICERD issue to create the impression that the Malay position would be compromised.

PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali reminded leaders not to succumb to the pressure of a small group which raised other issues that were not government agendas.

“Do not bow to the big powers. In the ICERD issue, it is not necessary to hastily ratify,” he said.

In George Town, DAP said it would leave the issue to the Prime Minister.

Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said DAP would not want to be drawn into a racial debate by certain political parties.

“Let’s not add unnecessary pressure on the heated issue as certain parties, which had lost the general election, are bent on creating a racial issue out of this.

“DAP members should refrain from commenting too much on the issue,” said Lim when addressing the delegates at the Penang DAP convention.

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