Race Relations Act, and what it might meanPosted: October 3, 2008
With all the hoo-hah this past month or so on race and race and race, someone suggested that a Race Relations Act be enacted to ensure that racial harmony is always preserved.
From what I understand, such an act was also proposed back before Merdeka. We’ve done without it for 50 years, because apparently no one at that time seemed to think it relevant. So why now? And what implications does it bring along with it?
Azmi Sharom writes what HE thinks about it, beautifully:
If a person feels he is being treated unfairly at work because of his ethnicity, then it is good to have a law to help him get justice.
However, if this is the purpose of the Act, then the principle will have to be applied across the board, in the private as well as public sector.
Is this going to happen? Fat chance.
The Constitution allows for quotas to be set in the public sector for bumiputras and I doubt that the Government of the day is going to do away with those provisions.
What is left? Maybe it will simply be a law to prevent people from saying nasty things to others based on race and, perhaps, religion. A law to stop hate speech.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing. But then we must look at the matter in the context of Malaysia.
Do we have similar laws along the same vein? Yes, we do. It’s called the Sedition Act.
Why the need for a new law then?
I am worried that some comments would be deemed more hateful than others depending on whom it is aimed at.
After all, we can see in recent times how a blogger’s comments were deemed so inflammatory that he deserved to be locked up without trial, and yet, a politician can say hateful things and no law is used against him.
One thing I want to make clear here is that Article 153 gives the King a discretionary power, and it has to be done to a level which he deems reasonable.
What does “reasonable” mean? This is a subjective term, and common sense would dictate that it can be open for discussion.
What if this new proposed law deemed such discussions to be “hate speech” or causing a “breakdown in race relations”?
It would mean another nail in the coffin of Malaysian civil liberties.
[I]n countries where a race relations law exists, they more often that not have a strong foundation in human rights. We don’t.
Full article HERE.