“Malaysia fares poorly in combating racism, extremism and religious persecution”

THE International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually today (March 21). Proclaiming the day in 1966, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Towards this end, the Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) is urging the unity government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to combat issues pertaining to racism, fanaticism, extremism, discrimination, double standard law enforcement, supremacist policies and religious persecutions.

With Malaysia being part of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the term of 2022-2024 (elected on Oct 15, 2021), the country is obliged to uphold the 30 articles as enshrined under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR).

UDHR is a milestone document which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Too many racist acts lately

More often than not playing the racial and religious card to the hilt for their political mileage, political leaders are prone to indiscriminately damage the country’s social fabric in the long run.

Racism is at its peak now with people being blunt about it without any remorse these days. Racist attacks against non-Malays and non-Muslims have been escalating at a worrying level. If one has noticed, the words, “penumpang” (passenger) and “pendatang” (foreigner) are being used rampantly today.

And due to the authorities’ lackadaisical attitude in stemming the problem, racist talks have somehow been ‘normalised’.

In this regard, I would like to also point out on Article 8 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution spells equal rights for its citizens, a right that is very important to prevent discrimination and injustice to all Malaysians.

  • That all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law; and
  • That there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law.

Implement Racial & Religious Hate Act

Hence, GHRF has handed a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on March 10, urging the unity government to implement the Racial & Religious Hate Act which would allow those making any statement deemed as hate speech directed at a particular race or religion to be prosecuted if indeed the unity government is serious in preserving the unity, harmony and peace of all fellow Malaysians.

If the power that be fails to nip the problem in the bud, Malaysia is bound to face serious problems in the future which by then will be too late to control as we can already observe presently the massive attack of racial and religious slurs.

I would like to raise my disappointment on the failure of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) to address rising racial and religious intolerance in the country despite having powers to do so.

GHRF’s objective is to uphold the Malaysian Constitution, Principles of Rukun Negara (National Principles), Parliamentary democracy, rule of law, equality and exercising the 30 articles as enshrined by UDHR 1948, among others.

This is to maintain racial unity and create united, peaceful, harmonious and prosperous society. – March 21, 2023


Shashi Kumar is president of the Kuala Lumpur-based Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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