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PETALING JAYA, Nov 23 — A group of 50 people gathered outside Masjid Ara Damansara here under the banner of Malay rights group Perkasa this afternoon to protest the government’s plan to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The street protest that started right after Friday Muslim prayers saw demonstrators dressed in the group’s signature green and yellow as they held up mini flags in similar colours and banners calling for the rejection of ICERD, and for the government to retain the Sedition Act 1948.
Traffic slowed to a crawl as curious motorists paused to read the banners.
Those on foot, many who were wearing skullcaps and had just exited the mosque compound, also crossed the road to get a better look and listen to fiery speeches calling for Bumiputera and Malay power, made with the aid of a loud-hailer.
Their attention strayed and they moved on, persuaded perhaps by sight of several policemen standing near the intersection where the protest was held. But there were also the food and drink stalls set up near the mosque that appeared to draw their interest.
The demonstration, organised by the Selangor chapter of Perkasa, lasted roughly an hour.
After each speech, the demonstrators responded with cries of “Allahuakbar” while pumping their fists in the air.
The speakers issued conflicting messages. One called for reconciliation, another demanded the “social contracts” to be honoured, and yet a third warned of dire consequences befalling the country if the Malays were pushed to the extreme.
At the centre of all this was Perkasa president Datuk Paduka Ibrahim Ali.
Standing beneath an umbrella held by an aide to protect his head from the drizzle, the former Kelantan lawmaker urged passing Malay Muslims to defend their ancestral rights and uphold the monarchy as the source of Malaysia’s unity, among others.
Speaking to reporters later, Ibrahim said he is personally undecided about participating in the planned mammoth anti-ICERD rally at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on December 8, which he hoped would not be used for the personal agenda of certain politicians.
“ICERD goes beyond political bickering as it affects the very status of Bumiputera and Islam in Malaysia.
“It could very well disrupt the social fabric, affecting even non-Bumiputera and non-Muslims,” he said.
However, he said he would not be able to stop Perkasa members from joining in.
Ibrahim also urged Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to clarify if Malaysia would be ratifying ICERD or otherwise instead of issuing conflicting statements.
“One moment he says it will be looked at, and then another he says it is unlikely to be ratified without two-thirds consent from the Dewan Rakyat.
“As a long-time supporter of Tun Dr Mahathir, I plead with him to make himself clear once and for all instead of confusing everyone,” Ibrahim added.
Shortly after the Perkasa protest, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying Malaysia will not ratify ICERD.
There are 13 other countries that have yet to sign or ratify the anti-discrimination treaty, including Myanmar, Brunei and North Korea.