Media erred by focusing on 'emotional' backlash against ICERD, says Kadir Jasin

Gabungan NGO-NGO Ummah protest outside Parliament demanding the government to reject the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in Kuala Lumpur October 31, 2018. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Gabungan NGO-NGO Ummah protest outside Parliament demanding the government to reject the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in Kuala Lumpur October 31, 2018. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 ― Datuk A. Kadir Jasin has chided the local media today for emphasising on the “emotional” reactions towards the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) instead of educating the public on the matter.

The veteran newsman accused some media outfits of intentionally sensationalising the issue, rather than reporting on the United Nations convention as a serious matter.

“It should be discussed in a wiser manner, and rationally to create understanding in society,” said the special adviser on media to the prime minister in a dialogue during the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) meet-the-press session.

“Media should take a more careful look, instead of reporting emotional and irrational political reactions.”

Kadir said he had himself refrained from expressing his personal views on ICERD when the topic was hot, claiming the atmosphere over the issue was “cloudy”.

In November last year, the Prime Minister’s Office had announced that the government will not ratify ICERD, amid mass protests by Malay-Muslim groups nationwide, and increasingly violent racial and religious threats.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had prior to that said Putrajaya will ratify international human rights conventions like ICERD, despite backlash from some Malay-Muslims.

Malaysia is one of 14 countries in the world that has not signed or ratified ICERD, including Brunei, Myanmar, and North Korea.

In his opening speech today, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail had slammed some media who reported the commission of hosting its Human Rights Day celebration in December last year to disrupt an anti-ICERD rally on the same day.

Razali had then said the decision of the celebration on December 8 was decided back in October, in accordance with a date provided by the Prime Minister’s Office.

In the same event, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo in his speech said that the media should play an effective role in educating the community by spreading the right kind of awareness and information that helps in nation-building.

“The media should create spaces for healthy debates on policies and legislation, pro-actively moderate public discussions and criticisms, as well as be vigilant and mindful of the need to restrict the spread of disinformation, hate speech and fake news,” he said.

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