KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The Opposition’s mass rally next month is wholly to show its gratitude to the government for not ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and should not be linked to anything else, Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said today.
The Kubang Kerian MP told reporters at the Parliament lobby today that the purpose of the rally is to discuss government policy and not provoke further racial tensions.
“We want to show our gratitude to the government. I don’t think it will be a racial polemic and the gathering on December 8 is a gathering over national policy. It doesn’t involve the different ethnic groups. We want to make sure there are no ethnic groups being left behind.
“We have invited all races. This isn’t a race-based rally. It’s a rally for those who love the 60 years of peace we have obtained together and that is what we are defending,” said Tuan Ibrahim.
When asked whether or not the rally will spark more racial tension due to the recent riots at the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple in Subang, the PAS deputy president said the two issues are separate.
“We shouldn’t tie the rally to ICERD. When it comes to religion, we need to respect the right to religion. Even in warfare Islam doesn’t allow collateral damage on places of worship and priests or even trees.
“The country needs stronger laws. We cannot simply construct places of worship. At the same time we must respect older places that have been around for more than a hundred years. These places have their own value,” said Tuan Ibrahim.
He also said that the organisers had met with the police yesterday to obtain a permit for the rally.
Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa echoed Tuan Ibrahim’s statement, saying ICERD should not be linked to the violence that occurred at the temple.
“ICERD should not be linked. The organisers should not turn this into a racial issue. It must be a peaceful gathering and in line with the law. We must work together with the police and make sure it is peaceful,” said the Ketereh MP.
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil on the other hand reminded the public to adhere to instructions by the authorities and the nation should prioritise public harmony and unity to avoid any untoward incidents from happening and heated racial discussions from occurring.
“For the time being it is best we remain patient and organise events that can reduce racial tension that might linger at this moment,” said the government backbencher.