KUALA LUMPUR: A motion by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) to debate the contentious International Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker today.
Datuk Mohamad Ariff Yusoff said his decision to reject the debate was in accordance with the parliamentary Standing Order 18, claiming that the matter was not of urgent public importance.
“I know there are plenty of animated responses from several quarters on this issue. But I don’t consider this matter as being something that needs to be debated immediately in the current context.
“However, I have allowed Port Dickson (Anwar) space to explain so that the public can understand the content of his motion. But my decision stands, that is why I reject the motion under Standing Order 18,“ he told the Dewan Rakyat.
Earlier, Anwar said that debating the matter was pertinent as although the Cabinet had decided against ratifying the convention, there were still voices questioning the government’s stand on the matter.
“There were those who asked if I stand with Pakatan Harapan (PH) when there are some government MPs questioning the position of Bahasa Malaysia and Islam as our official religion, and the special rights of the Bumiputras.
“I would like to stress in the name of PH, this ICERD matter has been finalised and it will not be changed by anyone,“ he said, claiming that it was vital that the Cabinet’s decision not to ratify the convention also be endorsed by parliament.
Anwar added that there were also other groups who claimed that rejecting ICERD was synonymous to approving discrimination, but said this was not true, as the federal constitution allows for all Malaysians to practice their own religions and speak their languages.
Earlier at a press conference, Anwar said the government would respect the public’s right to hold demonstrations pertaining to the convention, but said it remained important that the authorities maintained order and peace.
Umno and PAS are set to lead an anti-ICERD rally on Dec 8 at the Dataran Merdeka, despite the government’s decision not to ratify the treaty.
On Kelantan’s decision to announce a public holiday on Dec 9 (Sunday), in an attempt to boost attendance for the rally, Anwar said: “I don’t think it is appropriate to give holidays for demonstrations.”