Waytha: Govt will not table two national harmony Bills but favours a commission


P. Waytha Moorthy. -filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will not table two national harmony Bills aimed at strengthening racial and religious ties but is considering setting up a National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission instead, says P. Waytha Moorthy.  

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of national unity and social well-being said the Cabinet agreed that there were some overlaps with current laws after looking at the drafts of the Racial and Religious Hate Crime Bill and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill.  

"The Cabinet meeting on Jan 30 agreed that the Racial and Religious Hate Crime Bill is not needed because provisions under the draft, (such as) any acts of inciting hatred towards the royal institution, race and religion as well as acts that will cause physical harm based on race or religion, have been found to overlap with current laws.  

"All the suggested provisions can be amended into the Penal Code," he said while delivering his closing speech on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address on Monday (April 1). 

It was reported that the government was planning to table the two Bills this year after seeking feedback from relevant stakeholders.  

There are three harmony Bills meant to spearhead the government's efforts to enhance and strengthen race relations among Malaysians.  

They are the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill; the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill; and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill.  

The government, Waytha Moorthy added, found that the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill was not needed as the Federal Constitution gave similar protection.

However, he said the government viewed the setting up of the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission as a good and fair proposal.  

"Feedback from all sectors is needed before the commission can be finalised.  

"The Department of National Unity and Integration will get the necessary input and feedback and study the models of similar international commissions to ensure that the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission can be accepted by all.  

"Only after that, will the department prepare a memorandum for the consideration and approval of Cabinet," he added.    
   

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