During the parliamentary session yesterday, 15 October, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin questioned the prime minister's promise to ratify all core United Nations treaties related to human rights
Referring to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly, in which he said that Malaysia was committed to the UN's human rights principles, the MP asked, "What is the implication on our laws and policies?"
In posing the question to the Dewan Rakyat, Khairy argued that when Barisan Nasional was in power, Wisma Putra did not to ratify some of the UN's conventions for a "concrete reason," Malay Mail reported.
The politician pointed out that the UN's anti-discrimination treaty contradicts Article 153 of Malaysia's Federal Constitution, which grants special status to Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak
Article Two of the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination calls for an end to all racial discrimination, for the purpose of guaranteeing "full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms."
Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies a limited timeframe on all forms of racial discrimination and a requirement to give positive discrimination favouring the minority, the MP argued that, "This will cause an impact if we were to ratify and enforce it as law."
Despite Khairy's concerns for the protection of bumiputera rights, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah defended the Pakatan Harapan government for taking "a step forward"
"At the very least, we can discuss the issue instead of not trying," Saifuddin said during his winding-up session.
According to Malay Mail, he added that, "We shouldn't find excuses not to ratify but find ways to ratify. If there are reservations to ratify, at the very least, we have made a move towards ratification."
Malaysian lawyers have since chimed in, explaining that the anti-discriminatory UN treaty does not have to affect Malay rights
Lawyer N. Surendran said in a statement today that Khairy's concerns were misquided as Putrajaya could enter a reservation via Article 2.2 within the treaty, limiting the scope of the agreement.
"There is no need to hesitate," he added, according to The Malaysian Insight.
During his speech at the UN General Assembly, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysians want a new Malaysia that "remains neutral and non-aligned." Read his speech here: