Friday, September 19, 2008


Race Relations Act to be drawn up: Syed Hamid


The Government will draw up a race relations act to safeguard and strengthen relations among the different races in the country, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar disclosed yesterday. He said the formulation of the proposed act which had been agreed upon by the Cabinet would be headed by his Ministry and the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry. “These two Ministries are working together on this act, with our respective officers now at the discussion stage,” he told reporters after officiating at the Home Ministry’s staff monthly assembly, here yesterday. He said after the act had been approved, the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry would be playing an important role in the area of race relations as provided for under the act. “The Home Ministry will provide the input in enforcement efforts to ensure safety and national security,” he said. Syed Hamid said various aspects like integration, the education system and the economy would be taken into consideration in drawing up the act, besides the views of various quarters including nongovernmental organisations. “We need to get feedback from the public as ultimately, they will be the practitioners. This piece of law is for the people.” He said his Ministry would also refer to other countries like the United Kingdom which had such an act in place, as a guideline and for comparison in drawing up the act for Malaysia. He believed the act would be able to guide Malaysians in safeguarding race relations in the country, and they should view this positively as there would be room for improvement before the act was passed. “Under this act, action can be taken against those who disrupt harmony by causing racial tension and conflicts that-can also destabilise the country,” he said. Asked when the act would be ready for implementation, Syed Hamid said the target was soonest possible in view of the current situation in the country. Before this, MCA Youth Chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai had called for such an act to be introduced as a mechanism to strengthen race relations in the country in light of sensitive issues being frequently raised of late. - Meanwhile, in KUALA LUMPUR, the MIC proposed that an inter-race relations Council be established to discuss and address amicably issues concerning religion, language, culture and racial sensitivities. Its President Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu said such a Council was important to help realise the Government’s efforts at strengthening racial unity which had come under threat after the last general election. “The people are worried about the current situation as a lot of racial sensitivities are being raised by irresponsible quarters. “So, let’s go back to our original struggle of forging national unity for the good of the people and country,” he told reporters after chairing a meeting of the MIC’s Central Working Committee yesterday. He said the inter-race relations council could be set up after the proposed race relations act had become a reality. Samy Vellu said the council could be represented by the various political parties and religious and cultural organisations. “The Government needs to rebuild racial unity which will lead to national unity. But we also need to caution all quarters not to stoke up hatred among the various races in this country.” At the meeting, the MIC also conveyed it congratulations to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for being appointed the new Finance Minister, and expressed its support for the Prime Minister and his Deputy, as well as to BN in its mission to win back the people’s support through new approaches. - “The MIC supports the Government in all its actions to ensure the country’s political stability and economic strength,” said Samy Vellu. However, he said, the MIC also urged the Government to use the Internal Security Act judiciously, and the Opposition to Stop any action that could destabilise the country. - Bernama

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