22 November 2018

Upon contemplating writing on the sizzling hot International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) issue, we felt trapped in a Catch 22 impasse – damned if we do and damned if we don’t

One of us had to actually derive inspiration from proximity to the mosque of the Prophet in Masjid Nabawi, at Madinah.

To the liberals, human rights activists and civil societies, allow us to reiterate that the ratification of the ICERD is a no brainer.

But, to the many “Ketuanan Melayu” protagonists out there, the ICERD is a blatant declaration of open war. No amount of evidence-based law is going to convince them otherwise. Let alone rationale or common sense because the ICERD is to them a whole load of non-sense, a total disrespect and repudiation of their “inalienable bumiputra rights”

And for the liberals et al to expect a swift transformation of this “supremacist Malay mindset” indoctrinated over 61 years of toxic racial and religious BN politics, is naivety at best.

It is only kurang ajar in the sense that the lack of adab (decorum) is a learned behavior from an ambience of racial and religious bigotry, which now requires radical behavior modification (for want of a better psychiatric terminology).

This kurang ajarness needs to be unlearned and good behavior needs to be relearned, a time consuming process of educational reform which is doable but not within 6 months post GE14! There is no magical quick fix, the moral compass is screwed and it is not going to point True North over one General Election (GE), nay one generation.

At worst, you liberals et al have handed GE15 to the Malay opposition on a platter. Your impatience for change has proven to be your folly. You probably need reminding that at best, Pakatan Harapan (PH) only commands 20% of the Malay vote.

The UMNO-PAS-like minded racist Malay NGOs coalition, are out on a rampage to parade the ICERD as a blatant affront to the Federal Constitution, a conspiracy to deny the rights of the Malays, rebuff the supremacy of Islam and restrict the rights of the Malay rulers. Do they really care that their basic premise is a whole load of legal bullshit?

The Malay bigots are running amok preying on the basal instincts of the rural and urban Malays, declaring that the new government is against the Malay Agenda and is being manipulated by the Chinese DAP in PH.

You guys in your utter impatience and excitability for a Malaysia Baru, have caused a back lash in the Malay fraternity, which Tun Mahathir and his PH team would now have a tough time mending.

All the good work Tun and his team have done to expose the rampant corruption of the previous government, the trials of the ex-PM and his ministers, the trillion national debt etc have now been pushed to the quiet background.

Kindly give Tun and his team some credit and allow them the space to create the right atmosphere, amongst others enlightening the recalcitrant Malays, before mainstreaming the ICERD polemics.

ICERD has its merits but its ratification cannot be a one size fits all. Each country has its unique historical heritage and special circumstances that must be factored or else it will create disharmony.

Even western countries ratify subject to interpretations and exclusions by their respective parliaments. It is therefore disingenuous to think that we are obliged to swallow it lot, stock and barrel. It is not an either or case scenario. Similarly, our august house can only ratify ICERD within the confines allowed by our Federal Constitution.

The PAS and UMNO goons know this too well too, but they are bent on exploiting the democratic space afforded by the present socio-political governance to stir up trouble, create instability in their efforts to topple the PH.

We all know too well the sandiwara of UMNO-BN politicians but we are less cognisant of the hypocrisy of the “religious” PAS leadership though even more nauseous and dangerous.

Current PAS president, Hadi Awang, in an Utusan Melayu report dated 15 September 1985, then in his capacity as Terengganu State Commissioner, “pledged to abolish Malay rights if PAS came into power”. More specifically, he added that these include “the removal of Malay Reserve Land, National Economic Policy or other policies which only served the Malay interest. PAS promised that all races would be equitably treated” Need we say more?

In this politically explosive and divisive issue, we would appeal to the higher intellectual and emotional wisdom of the majority of peace loving Malaysians to avoid being dragged left, right, centre along parochial racial sentiments.

Trust the vast experience and wisdom of Tun Mahathir, Lim Kit Siang, Anwar Ibrahim and the strategic geniuses of Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Liew Chin Tong et al to navigate us through this acute conundrum and contextualize the why, when and how of the ICERD to the nation at its appropriate hour.

Dato’ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin
MPF Board Member

Prof Dr Awaluddin Mohamed Shaharoun
University Technology Malaysia