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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Amid mass protests across the country, the Prime Minister’s Office announced today that the government will not ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
“The government will continue to defend the Federal Constitution that contains the social contract that has been agreed upon by representatives from all races during the formation of this country,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement today.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s announcement came after a few recent demonstrations against the United Nations treaty that prohibits racial discrimination, with Malay-Muslim groups and political parties claiming that the convention will remove Malay privileges.
Small protests were held today in Selangor and Sabah.
Police said earlier today that 160 complaints have been filed in the last two weeks over incendiary racial and religious speeches and that Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would be questioned.
Zahid threatened at a protest attended by thousands of people in Perak last week that Malay-Muslims would “run amok” if the government ratified ICERD.
He also said Umno and PAS would hold a demonstration on December 8 in Kuala Lumpur to protest against ratifying the international treaty.
Malaysia is one of 14 countries in the world that has not signed or ratified ICERD, including Brunei, Myanmar, and North Korea.
Out of 197 countries, 179 countries have ratified, acceded or succeeded and agreed to be bound by the ICERD.
The ICERD seeks to oblige countries to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, is able to enjoy a long list of rights some may take for granted, including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, work, housing, medical care, social security, education, and even the right to access places for public use such as restaurants, theatres and parks.