Need for specific anti-racial discrimination law to strengthen unity

KUALA LUMPUR: The government should draw up the Anti-Racial Discrimination Act as an important step in efforts to strengthen unity in the country, according to Federal Territory PKR Youth chief Na’im Brundage.

He said this is important because racial discrimination had reared its ugly head in all aspects of life whether in the neighbourhood, education centres, workplaces or public areas.

“Although this Act cannot eradicate racial discrimination, it is a step forward which can be implemented quickly to show the government’s commitment to maintaining racial unity,” he said in a statement today.

Na’im said anti-discrimination laws have been adopted in developed countries like Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United States, and Malaysia should consider doing the same as long as it does not contradict the Federal Constitution.

Political analyst Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod of Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM) said there should be a specific law to check discrimination and accord equitable rights to all races, in line with the Federal Constitution.

“It is clear Malaysia does not have specific laws to deal with discrimination in whatever forms. What we have is just Article 8 in the Federal Constitution on equitable rights.

“If formulated, this act will include issues of discrimination in the hiring of workers, attire of Muslim women (workers), prayer rights and anti-sexist provisions. So, we need clearer and specific laws to deal with discrimination in all forms,” he told Bernama.

Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Institute of Ethnic Studies said although Malaysia does not have specific laws to deal with discrimination, the government could use existing legislation to tackle the problem.

Last year Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof said the government wanted to promote harmony and unity by introducing several laws to check discrimination, and racial and religious hatred. — Bernama