PETALING JAYA: The government must allay the fears of certain parties before ratifying the International Convention of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), says PSM national chairperson Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim (pic).
"PSM strongly feels that the biggest challenge to the Pakatan Harapan government is to allay fears amongst the majority Malays that their special privileges would be undermined when the ICERD is signed.
"It is wrong to assume that the concerns against ICERD are solely raised by right wing Umno and PAS leaders seeking political mileage. These are also the real fears of the Malay marhein (farmers, smallholders, workers, small businessmen, lower level government employees) who, after 61 years of race-based policies feel that they are still left out of the economic progress of the country.
"They are not fully wrong either," he said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 20).
Dr Mohd Nasir said Umno and Barisan Nasional's race-based policies in the past had enriched only the top 20% of Malays.
Hence, he said this resulted in working class Malays who felt that they could fall back on those privileges that was guaranteed under the Federal Constitution such as higher education quotas, licenses, and Malay reserve land.
"But with the ICERD, they fear that these too could be challenged and taken away from them," he added.
He said the party believes that the way forward for Malaysia is to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on race.
However, he said that there must be affirmative action based on class.
"A social inclusion agenda which is truly colour blind will truly solve the socio-economic disparities in society and weed out the Malay rentier class who has benefited all these years through Umno-style race-based policies," he said.
Dr Mohd Nasir said the government has to ensure that it does not repeat the mistakes of Umno and Barisan's race-based policies that only succeeded in increasing the class disparity among Malays.
He suggested for the government to go to the ground to gain the confidence of the working class, farmers, rubber tappers, smallholders and petty traders that class-based affirmative action will be continued to assist them in a more targeted and effective manner.
"If Pakatan successfully rolls out such plans and proves its effectiveness, the majority masses will begin to see the fallacy of race-based policies.
"At the end of the day, whether we sign or do not sign the ICERD, what matters most is whether the government executes concrete policies, regulations and programmes to truly achieve social inclusion," he said.