Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM and TARRENCE TAN
THE government will consider setting up a National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission instead of an earlier proposal to table two national harmony Bills aimed at strengthening racial and religious ties, says P. Waytha Moorthy.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of National Unity and Social Wellbeing said the Cabinet agreed that the drafts of the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill had overlapped with the existing laws.
“On Jan 30, the Cabinet decided that the draft of the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill was not needed because some provisions like inciting hatred towards the royal institution, race and religion, as well as acts that will cause physical harm based on race or religion, had overlapped.
“All the suggested provisions can be amended into the Penal Code,” he said in his closing speech on the motion of thanks to the Royal Address.
According to earlier reports, the government was planning to table the National Harmony Bills this year after seeking feedback from relevant stakeholders.
The Bills will be the thrust in the government’s efforts to strengthen race relations among the people.
Waytha Moorthy said the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill was also not needed as the proposed laws were already protected under the Federal Constitution. However, he said the government viewed the setting up of the commission as a “good and fair” proposal.
“Feedback from all sectors are needed before the commission can be finalised,” he said.