53 years has passed since our independence and we are still talking about racism. Malaysia as a young nation with its rich diverse and multicultural ethnic composition is an unusual social setting compared with many other nations.
Due to the political landscape in Malaysia, the racial divide has in fact become bigger since Malaysia’s independence in 1957. Malaysians are divided based on their ethnicity on many fronts, be it education, health care, finance and welfare. The consciousness of an ethnic identity is deep seated and is felt very stronglyin both the public and private sectors.
Most of the time the authorities use this divide to promote its political interests and control over the divided population. This feeling of mistrust is further used by rights wing groups that turn every issue in the country into a race related issue. This has further divided the people into their own ethnic groups in a defensive mode to protect their own existence.
Pusat KOMAS’s non-discrimination programme was started since 2004 focusing on race relation and ethnicity. KOMAS was also part of the team of civil societies who came up with the statement during the Durban Review Conference to the Government of Malaysia in 2009. Part of the statement was to ask the government to ratify, without reservations, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
We want to provide an open and safe platform for Malaysians to discuss, understand and act upon issues of race and ethnicity. Then hopefully they will take serious actions including engaging different stakeholders such as policy makers and Malaysian society in general make constructive changes in the country. KOMAS has also produced many resource materials such as comic books, posters, video films and photo stories which have helped us to spread the message of anti discrimination.