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KUANTAN, Nov 1 — The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) will be the last basic rights convention that the government will ratify.
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said at present, the government was focusing on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT).
He said the ICERD was the last convention the government would ratify as it involved the law, and must be looked at, taking into account the views of various parties, including the experts, in order to allay the fears of the public.
“We understand these fears... which is why we have to discuss with all races, and look at the Federal Constitution and the laws to understand the issue, the fears.
“Actually, there are not many laws which have to be streamlined with the ICERD, but we have to look at each one... the technical committee has long been formed, led by the Department of National Unity and Integration under the Prime Minister’s Department,” he said.
Saifuddin was speaking to reporters after handing over intraocular lenses to 16 poor recipients in the Indera Mahkota parliamentary constituency at an event held at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here today.
He said the polemic today was caused by many people not reading and understanding the Federal Constitution, resulting in misunderstandings especially on fundamental issues.
“Those who support it do not understand it well, but they are supporting it just for the sake of... those who oppose also do not understand it but just do it for the sake of doing it...” he said.
For instance, Saifuddin said, Article 153 of the Constitution comprised four matters, namely concerning the special position of the Malays and the Bumiputera people of Sabah and Sarawak,
“There is no mention of the word ‘rights” so it would be wrong to connect it to Malay supremacy, it has nothing to do with Phrase 153 which is not about Malay supremacy or the Bumiputra issue.
“The word Bumiputera itself is actually not in the Constitution, so if you use it, it means you do not understand the Federal Constitution,” he said.
Saifuddin said the Pakatan Harapan government had no intention of touching on Article 3 (the position of Islam), Article 152 (Bahasa Melayu as the official language), Article 153 and the position of the Malay Rulers.
“The fact is we are a nation which practises parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, and this must be upheld,” he said. — Bernama