Pusat KOMAS in collaboration with SUHAKAM Sabah, Institute for Development Studies Sabah with the cooperation of Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi National Sabah, conducted a roundtable discussion in IDS Hall, Wisma Sedia, discussing the potential ways to incorporate International Standards on Non-discrimination for inclusive governance.

“Based in Petaling Jaya, Pusat KOMAS is a 25 years-old Non-Governmental Organisation working closely on issues of Non-discrimination and Orang Asli Rights”, explains Faribel Maglin, representative from Pusat KOMAS.

In his opening remarks, SUHAKAM Commissioner Jerald Joseph stated that being the majority is not an entitlement to superiority. History has exhibited Malaysia as a country with a strong position over the sufferings of the minorities in other countries like Bosnia, Myanmar and Palestine, but to replicate similar concerns in our local context is still a long way to go.

According to Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, Chairman of the Institute of Development Studies (Sabah), the affirmative action was realized mainly through the New Economic Policy (1971), which aimed to reduce the economic inequality of the Malays. Therefore, the legitimate interest of the non-Malays was downgraded.
“About 71 per cent of Malaysians find race and religion based affirmative action is obsolete, stressing the need for a colour-blind affirmative action targeting the poor and needy irrespective of race and religion” the former SUHAKAM Commissioner quoted from a survey conducted in 2008.

Commenting on the National Unity Index, “although people generally claim to be united with one another, we need a device that could measure the level of unity and social cohesion among Malaysians that serves as a parameter” said Zulkifli Hashim from the Department of National Unity and Integration, Prime Minister Department.
About 65 participants addressed several important topics in the consultation, such as issues of racism in the public transportation system, scholarship allocation, public policy and educational institutions, followed by discussions on rectifying measures. Also present was Commissioner Datuk Godfrey Gregory Joitol (SUHAKAM) and Datuk Johan Ariffin (Institute for Development Studies, Sabah).

The roundtable discussion today (2nd April 2019) aims to utilize the international framework on elimination of racial discrimination towards developing laws and policies.

Findings obtained from these consultations would be compiled and shared with state ministry and the Department of National Unity and Integration. It would encourage the Pakatan Harapan government to expedite the process to implement inclusive policies which are in line with the Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.

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