PM to skip Suhakam rally over stand on ICERD
PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has distanced himself from a proposed rally organised by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) here yesterday.
He said this was because the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government he led had a different stand from Suhakam on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
"I've decided that we will not accept ICERD. Suhakam wants to accept ICERD. So how can I go," he told a press conference after chairing a Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council meeting at Menara Yayasan Selangor yesterday.
The rally in conjunction with International Human Rights Day 2018 was originally scheduled to take place yesterday, with Dr Mahathir as the special guest but was postponed to today on the advice of the authorities.
A 'thanksgiving' gathering to celebrate the government's decision not to ratify ICERD was held in the federal capital yesterday.
On Nov 23, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that the Pakatan Harapan-led government would not ratify ICERD and would continue to uphold the Federal Constitution to defend the social contract that had been agreed upon by all races during the formation of this country.
In a statement on Nov 27, Suhakam said it was disappointed with the government's decision.
Dr Mahathir added that the Suhakam event was postponed to today as the police would not have enough manpower to control two rallies on the same day.
"It's not that we are against demonstrations. Demonstrations can be held, but we have only asked for it to be postponed to another day so the police are not pressured because they do not have enough number of personnel to oversee large gatherings," he said.
When asked whether he would be joining the rally in the capital yesterday, Dr Mahathir said: "No. I'm grateful enough. I have made a good decision (by not ratifying ICERD), I am grateful I can make a good decision," he said.
Addressing the perception that PH was a 'U-turn' government after backtracking on a number of decisions, Dr Mahathir said sometimes the government had to do it when it was heading the wrong way.
"We're not perfect people although most of us are 'angels', but angels sometimes make mistakes. So, when angels make a mistake, they turn around," he said.
On the cabinet's decision to postpone the scheduled salary deductions (PGB) for National HIgher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) borrowers, Dr Mahathir said the government had taken into account the people's views on the matter and that a revised payment plan would be sought.
Asked whether the policy regarding PTPTN payments was made without proper consultation, Dr Mahathir said many parties did not help in terms of providing recommendations and information prior to the decision.
"Before we announced it, they did not say anything. So when we announced, there were many who were dissatisfied. But for us to ask about 33 million people (Malaysia’s population), is a bit difficult. So if there is a negative reaction (from the public), we take that into consideration," said Dr Mahathir, who is also chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).
Also present were Deputy Prime Minister and PH president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Communications and Multimedia Minister and DAP deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo. - Bernama