race relation act – are you for or against it?

sometime last week, mca youth chief liow tiong lai has proposed a ‘race relations act’ – a new legislation to govern racial relations, encourage greater unity and avoid discrimination among races in the country, and the cabinet had approved it.

when the british parliament enacted the act in 1976, it was said that, the main purpose of the act is ‘to prevent discrimination on the grounds of race’.

there you go. the word ‘discrimination’ again. remember liow said "… to avoid discrimination among races in the country"?

but didn’t the datuk mca youth chief know that there are already discrimination of races in our country? oh sorry. of course he knew, that was why he suggested the act to avoid discrimination… but wait… with the NEP, special privileges, malays’ rights… all these hanging around our head, will the discrimination stop?

now please don’t say i’m questioning the malays’ special privileges (phew! this is another issue to talk about) because i do respect the constitution which clearly stated the malays are to enjoy special privileges. nothing wrong about that. fine. let them have special privileges, while we non malays get along with life very fine without the special privileges.

the thing is that the very fact that there is NEP (i mean ‘abused’ NEP) and special privileges means that there is no equality for all races, right? isn’t this discrimination? then if NEP and special privileges will never ever go away (no problem for me with that), what is the use of having a race relations act? unless as someone made a comment at the bar council, maybe it is a ‘don’t talk about my race act’. or as lim kit siang asked…

What is the use of a Race Relations Act in Malaysia if the Ahmad Ismails enjoy immunity from the law being able to get away scot-free for their inflammatory, offensive, insensitive and racist utterances without fear of having to face criminal reprisals from the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers for their seditious utterances?

and don’t you think, this sounds scary, coming from the very homey minister:

The Act would include provisions on punitive action while using the Federal Constitution as the guideline, he said.

‘punitive action using the federal constitution’. and what does the federal constitution said?… the special privileges remember? ahh now you see, don’t you, who is going to benefit from the race relation act.

so why do we need the race relation act? the constitution is already there to punish us if we question the special privileges… which has to do with race. however… thinking aloud… i wonder will it punish those who incite racial sentiments when they angrily (and wrongfully) accused us of questioning the special privileges. oh obviously not, looking at the ah-mad is-mad issue.

someone said that why do we need another act when we already have so many acts e.g. the sedition act, the internal security act (ISA! ISA!). well the race relation act itself might be a good thing but the problem is it might be misused… just as the ISA was misused.

"the government will draw up a race relations act to safeguard and strengthen relations among the different races in the country." so went the news.

Unity and racial harmony cannot be achieved merely by parliamentary acts, laws or government policies. In fact it will worsen inter-racial relationships if there is no proper enforcement of the law and an efficient judiciary system to oversee its judicious usage.

the above wise words came from someone with the name edmond from the star’s citizen blog. he is so right. he has so much more wisdom to share, that i’m going to copy the whole thing here in my blog.

(btw, how come i didn’t see this reported in malaysiakini? maybe it was but i missed it?)


The Star Citizen’s Blog
Sunday September 21, 2008
Race Relation Actors
Posted by: edmondr

Unity and racial harmony cannot be achieved merely by parliamentary acts, laws or government policies. In fact it will worsen inter-racial relationships if there is no proper enforcement of the law and an efficient judiciary system to oversee its judicious usage.

Therefore it is quite unsettling to read in the papers that the Cabinet has approved the creation of a Race Relation Act. But it seems that our politicians are still behaving like actors in a fictitious play, absorbed in their own fantasies of being at the helm of power in a totalitarian world.

The only way to unite people is to identify a common thread that binds us all and not by imposing further punishing acts to highlight our differences. We already have adequate laws and acts to protect our citizens from racists and rouges who are out to create trouble. The actual problem lies in the high-handed implementation and biased enforcement of these laws.

That coupled with the questionable independence of the judiciary system has created a foul atmosphere of unfairness and injustice among the people of Malaysia. What is the use of enacting new acts and laws if they are going to be misused and misinterpreted again and again?

The latest example would be the incarceration of the reporter Tan Hoon Cheng of Sin Chew under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for correctly reporting Ahmad Ismail’s racially contemptuous speech during the Permatang Pauh by-elections. Everyone is perplexed as to why the messenger was arrested whereas the perpetrator received just a mild punishment, not from the police, but from his own political party.

If the government is serious about encouraging racial unity, then these prophets of racial tension should be investigated, arrested and tried in court. By muffling the voice of the people and shrouding the reality of the nation, the government appears to be sweeping problems under the carpet rather than dealing with them earnestly.

What is the use of enacting a new Race Relations Act when the government obviously could not or rather, would not execute the present laws fairly?

The common thread that all of us share is that we are, first and foremost, HUMAN BEINGS. Each one of us is a child of MOTHER EARTH, striving daily to exist in the company of billions of others. We are all equal in the face of nature.

It is only when we start to adorn ourselves with different skin colours and religious robes that we stray further and further away from this common bond of humanity. In Malaysia, these differences are made more pronounced and in fact, encouraged by the system of communal politics practiced since time immemorial.

How can we even try to look beyond our race and religion, if our leaders continue to harp on issues that separate us and at the same time impose laws which are against humanity on the people?

No amount of acts or laws can ensure racial and religious harmony if they do not respect the basic tenets of humanity. How can we expect people of different races and religion to trust each other if they are not treated with justice and equality?

If there is any act or law which should be enacted and upheld to unify the people, it should be called the ‘Law of Humanity and Human Rights’ and not ‘Race Relation Act’ or ‘Internal Security Act’. This ‘humanized Act’ will celebrate human beings simply as human beings, and it shall incorporate ideas of freedom, justice and equality.

People should be taught to appreciate their own differences and give equal respect and adoration for each other’s culture. We are what we are born to be – Malay, Chinese and Indian – but we can be a better human being if we understand other people’s way of life.

But after having said all that, let us take a step backwards and ponder on this question.


Forty years ago, if Ahmad Ismail had said what he said in Permatang Pauh, chaos would have broken out throughout the country. Forty years ago, if Tan Hoon Cheng were to be arrested under the ISA for some silly reason such as self protection, people would have taken to the streets to demand for her release.

However, what we see today are civilized retorts and candle light vigils organized by politically matured civilians from all sides – the opposition supporters, concerned citizens and even political parties from the ruling coalition itself. Malaysians can now see through the veil of injustice that has clouded our vision for a long time.

But what makes me proud to be a Malaysian today is that although the government is on the brink of collapse and the Prime Minister is facing increasing pressure from within his own party and externally from the opposition coalition, WE, the common RAKYAT MALAYSIA are still going about our daily chores peacefully and orderly.

It is a shame that the largest party that governed the country for the past fifty years has not realized this important change that had occurred in our society. Due to their recalcitrant mindset and static policies, Barisan Nasional has not been able to adapt themselves to the present political realities of modern Malaysia. In other words, they remain stuck way below in evolution ladder of the nation.

We Malaysians should give ourselves a pat on the back for having the common sense to live together all this while despite the constant reminder about the threat of racial discord by the Government. We do not need more parliamentary acts to secure the social fabric that has already been strengthening by itself throughout these years.

What we do need is the abolishment of suppressive acts such as the Internal Security Act and the incorporation of humanity friendly laws which will ensure that the Malaysian society thrive in an atmosphere of freedom, justice and equality.

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