PETALING JAYA: Calls have grown louder for Saturday’s anti-Icerd (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) rally to be cancelled.
Although the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the police have given the organisers the green light for the rally to proceed, moderate activists, as well as two mufti, felt it was still not too late for the gathering to be called off.
Moderation advocate Mohamed Tawfik Ismail said there is no reason for the gathering to be held as fears that Malay privileges and the position of Islam will be eroded if Icerd is ratified is misplaced.
“The organisers have changed the theme of the rally from opposing Icerd to expressing gratitude to God over the government’s decision not to ratify Icerd.
“But their underlying fears about Malays and Islam are still misplaced,” he said yesterday.
Mohamed Tawfik said it is very hard to amend the Constitution to change the status of Malay privilege and the position of Islam in Malaysia.
Apart from requiring a minimum two-thirds support among MPs to amend the Constitution – which Pakatan Harapan is not able to secure – the consent of the Malay Rulers is also needed as they are the authority on Islamic matters in their states, he said.
“The leaders of PAS and Umno have not explained these facts to their followers,” he added.
Malay-Muslim group Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram) said the gathering serves no purpose to the public, except for causing unnecessary traffic congestion in the city.
“We don’t see how anyone will benefit from it,” said Ikram vice-president Burhanuddin Lukman.
He said Ikram cannot understand why the organisers are so eager in wanting to go ahead with the rally when the government has already made its commitment that it will not ratify Icerd.
“Maybe they want to protect their image because they started it (the protest). But when the government made the decision not to ratify it, they have lost the cause,” he added.
Earlier, the mufti of Perak and Penang also expressed similar sentiments against the rally.
On Nov 29, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria was quoted as saying that the gathering should not go ahead.
“This issue has been resolved and it does not need any (rally). We are worried that other things will happen (if the rally is held). In Islam, creating conflict is not allowed,” he added.
The following day, Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor said the gathering should be cancelled to ensure harmony among in the country’s multiracial and multireligious society.
“This issue is resolved and the government has already issued a statement that Icerd won’t be implemented in Malaysia as it goes against the Constitution,” he said.
The government on Nov 23 announced that it would not ratify Icerd, adding that it would continue to defend the Federal Constitution, which contains a social contract that has been agreed upon by all races during the formation of the country.
To date, Malaysia has ratified three of nine core United Nations international human rights conventions, with Icerd being one of the remaining six.
Yesterday, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the upcoming rally against the Icerd must be separated from any racial issue.
He said the rally is to show gratitude towards the government for deciding not to ratify Icerd, which had drawn much criticism from pro Muslim-Malay groups over claims that it could undermine the position of Malays, Islam and the royal institutions.
“To me, the media must highlight the fact that the rally isn’t a gathering to incite sensitive issues concerning race in our diverse society.”
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the rally will not go against the Peaceful Assembly Act.
“We will also follow all terms agreed with the authorities and give our cooperation fully,” he added.
The anti-Icerd gathering will start in Jalan Raja, Kuala Lumpur, at 2pm.