KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today revived calls on the federal government to introduce fresh legislation outlawing hate speech and discrimination, saying the laws were necessary to end racism here.
The commission also urged Putrajaya to accede to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), an accord that would compel Malaysia to enact such laws in order to eliminate racial discrimination and promote understanding among races.
“Malaysia continues to be confronted with evidence that it is still far from realising the goal of inter-ethnic, racial and religious harmony that our founding fathers had strived to achieve,” Suhakam said in a statement issued in conjunction with the International Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day today.
It noted that a recent survey by the Centre for a Better Tomorrow (CENBET) revealed that while Malaysians are generally against racism, at least one in three have racist tendencies although they may not realise it.
To change this, Suhakam said Putrajaya should fulfil its previous pledge to enact a Racial, Religious and Hate Crimes Act, which would outlaw hate speech, and a National Harmony and Reconciliation Act, which will prohibit discrimination.
“The Commission is of the view that the promotion of tolerance and understanding that all people are equal in their dignity and rights will contribute enormously towards a more harmonious and tranquil society that is free from prejudices, intolerance and stereotypes,” it said.
According to Cenbet’s survey released last week, Malaysians in the peninsular are categorised as “average or selectively racist”, with 60 per cent of respondents claiming not to be racist, 28 per cent saying they have a shade of racism, 9 per cent openly declaring themselves racist and 3 per cent saying they did not know.