Tuesday, 23 June 2009

An Act that will fix the racists


An Act that will fix the racists
Kua Kia Soong | Jun 20, 09 6:31am
Anyone who had attended the talk by Prof Aneez Esmail on ‘Race Relations in Britain’ organised by Kita (Institute of Ethnic Studies) in UKM will be left in no doubt as to the efficacy of the Race Relations Act 1976 in dealing with racism and racial discrimination in Britain.

malaysians 050905Twenty-four years ago, I wrote in The Star, “The need for race relations legislation” (Nov 28, 1985) because there was an alarming incidence of “institutional racism”, a point stressed by Aneez.

In that article, I elicited many examples of racism and racial discrimination in Malaysia which could be dealt with if such an Act existed in our country.

It was not taken seriously for the obvious reason that if we had such a law, many Umno politicians including the present prime minister would have been dealt with under such a law; many policies such as the enrolment of “bumiputera only” students into institutions - for example, UiTM - would have been declared racially discriminatory long ago.

The British Race Relations Act 1976 has a section on ‘Incitement to racial hatred’ which said:

“A person commits an offence if he publishes or distributes written matter which is threatening, abusive or insulting; or he uses in any public place or at any public meeting words which are threatening, abusive or insulting, in a case where, having regard to all the circumstances, hatred is likely to be stirred up against any racial group…”

In 1987, Umno Youth organised a rally at the Jalan Muda Stadium in Kuala Lumpur at which banners read: ‘May 13 has begun: Soak the keris in Chinese blood’, among others.

This is not the invention of the opposition. It can be corroborated in the government white paper, ‘Towards Preserving National Unity’, 1988. It was also covered by the Chinese-language press at the time.

Play transcript of Najib’s 1987 speech

On stage to fan the flames of such flagrant racism during that fateful rally was the Umno Youth chief and present prime minister.

Of course, he has denied in Parliament that he uttered the exact words as those on the banners. But as the police often warn us, the organisers must bear the responsibility for any utterances and banners displayed.

If we had a Freedom of Information Act, we would be asking for a transcript of the Umno Youth chief’s speech at that rally.

Since we do not have a FoI Act, the prime minister can try to clear his name by asking the authorities to make public the transcript of his 1987 speech. At least, if no one else, our Special Branch should have a copy. They told me during my ISA detention that they were one of the best intelligence outfit in the world and their library had more information than any other resource centre in the country.

Is there any wonder why such a FoI Act will meet the same fate as a Race Relations Act under such a government?

No action was taken against the main rabble rousers on stage at that rally. The main targets of the police were people like me who had nothing to do with this racist rally. More than a hundred of us were subsequently arrested and detained without trial under the ‘Operation Lallang’.

Since then, we have been treated to nauseating racist taunts by delegates at the Umno general assemblies and the ritualistic flaunting of the keris by the Umno Youth chief.

I remember a few years ago, an education minister tried to play to the gallery at an Umno general assembly by saying that, as long as he was the education minister, he would not allow a single non-bumiputera to be admitted into UiTM.

This is the reality of racial discrimination in this country. When we bear in mind that UiTM has a total enrolment of some 100,000 students and that it is a public-funded institution, it is shocking that the government can get away with such blatant racial discrimination by justifying it as “affirmative action”.

If we had a FoI Act, we would be able to get the statistics on other areas of such blatant racial discrimination.

Set up a Race Relations Court too

The statistics I got in Parliament in 1990 were as follows - an average of 90 percent of loans for polytechnic certificate courses, 90 percent of scholarships for diploma of education courses, 90 percent of scholarships/loans for degree courses taken in the country, almost all scholarships/loans for degree courses taken overseas were given to bumiputeras.

Regarding the enrolment of students in residential schools throughout the 80s, 95 percent were bumiputeras; the enrolment in Mara Lower Science College, Maktab Sains Mara was almost 100 percent bumiputera throughout the 80s... do you call this affirmative action?

Is there any wonder the government has not ratified the United Nations Convention Against Racial Discrimination up to the present day?

A Race Relations Court will be able to determine and define the legality or illegality of such actions and a Commission for Racial Equality could be formed to work toward the elimination of racism and racial discrimination; promote equality of opportunity and harmonious ethnic relations, and keep under review the workings of the Act.

I concluded my article of Nov 28, 1985 thus:

“While such a Race Relations Act may not strike at the roots of racial polarisation, at least it should ensure that the limits of the implementation of government policies are scrupulously delineated, and just as importantly, the Malaysian public is not treated to racist garbage, which should be spurned with all the contempt it deserves.”

KUA KIA SOONG, a director of Suaram, is former Petaling Jaya Utara MP. He was arrested in 1987 under the Internal Security Act and detained for 14 months. He is author of ‘445 Days Behind the Wire’.


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通告 Notification

人民之友 对我国第14届大选意见书
(华 巫 英)3种语文已先后贴出

作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在今年9月24日对即将来临的第14届全国大选投票,发表了一篇以华文书写的“意见书”,题为:投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!

这篇意见书的英文译稿(标题是:Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!)已于10月22日张贴在本部落格。马来文译稿(标题是:Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!)也已接着在11月13日在此贴出。



Pandangan Sahabat Rakyat terhadap PRU14 telah diterbitkan dalam tiga bahasa (Melayu, Cina dan Inggeris)

Sebagai sebuah pertubuhan masyarakat yang berpendirian teguh tentang prinsip "bebas dan berautonomi" dan “sentiasa berdampingan dengan rakyat jelata”, Sahabat Rakyat telah menerbitkan kenyataan tentang pandangan kami terhadap Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa! " (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)dalam Bahasa Cina pada 24hb September 2017.

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut yang bertajuk Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”! telah diterbitkan dalam blog kita pada 22hb Oktober 2017 manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu telah diterbitkan pada 13hb November 2017.

Selain daripada itu, Sahabat Rakyat juga akan menyebarkan kenyataan ini seluas mungkin kepada pertubuhan dan individu semua bangsa, strata, profesyen dan agama seluruh Negara melalui email, wechat, whatsApp dan pelbagai saluran lain. Kami amat mengalu-alukan pertubuhan dan individu yang berpendirian dan pandangan sama dengan kami untuk turut menyebarkan kenyataan ini kepada lebih ramai orang!

Kami berharap pendirian dan pandangan kami berkenaan pilihan raya kali ini yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dapat disebarkan dengan tepat dan meluas untuk diuji dalam kalangan rakyat semua bangsa semua strata sosial melalui penglibatan mereka dalam amalan pelbagai parti politik dalam pertempuran pilihan raya umum kali ini mahupun amalan masa depan.

The Chinese, English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about GE14 have been published consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, on 24 September 2017, Sahabat Rakyat had released a Chinese-written statement of views with regard to the voting in the upcoming 14th General Election, entitled “Vote for candidates who are against State Islamisation: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent the return to power of Mahathir’s faction!” (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)

The English rendition of this statement entitled "Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!" and the Malay rendition entitled "Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!" had been released on 22 October and 13 November respectively.

Apart from that, Sahabat Rakyat will also make every effort to disseminate this statement as widely as possible to organizations and individuals of all ethnic groups, religions and all walks of life throughout the country via email, WeChat, WhatsApp and other channels. We welcome organizations and individuals with the same position and views to spread this statement to more people!

We hope that our position and views pertaining to the upcoming General Election expressed in the statement will be accurately and widely disseminated and also examined by the popular masses of various ethnicity and social strata through their involvement in the struggle of the 14th General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.

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