Dr Mahathir distances himself from planned Suhakam gathering
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 today.
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 here yesterday.
The rally in conjunction with International Human Rights Day 2018 was originally scheduled to take place today, with Dr Mahathir as the special guest but was postponed to tomorrow on the advice of the authorities.
An anti-ICERD rally is currently being held in the federal capital yesterday, described by organisers as a ‘thanksgiving’ gathering to celebrate the government’s decision not to ratify ICERD.
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.