Malaysian government says no to Race Relations Act

February 24th, 2009 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 24 (IANS) The government of multi-ethnic Malaysia Tuesday rejected a proposal for a Race Relations Act, saying it preferred to review existing laws that “are enough to keep the peace”.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi’s government said there was no need for a Race Relations Act “because current legislations are enough to tackle issues related to race relations and unity”, NST Online reported.

Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Deputy Minister Teng Boon Soon said despite calls from various quarters to institute a Race Relations Act, the government felt that current laws are enough to ensure peace.

Among the laws are the Sedition Act, Internal Security Act and the Printing and Printing Presses Act.

The stringent laws, according to the opposition parties and human rights bodies, are used to suppress criticism and dissent, in action, speech and in print.

“It is better for the government to study existing provisions and update them rather than coming up with a new act,” he said in parliament.

The minister said to overcome racial religious issues, “unity values should be emphasised and this can be done via education”.

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society that has majority Muslim Malays, and an estimated 33 percent Chinese and eight percent Indians who follow different faiths.

Like a recent survey that blamed the political parties and politicians for racial and religious disputes, the minister said: “One of the main problems on unity nowadays stem from politicians.

“Everyone should be more sensitive and stop making fiery statements that could affect racial-religious sentiments,” the web site of New Straits Times quoted him as saying.

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