Opposition rapped for rejecting Act

(The Star) – The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) has chided the Opposition for rejecting the proposed Race Relations Bill due to their failure to understand the necessity for it.

BNBBC vice-chairman Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the Opposition had failed to understand the intent behind the proposed Act and have misconstrued it because of its name.

“The proposed law is more than just regulating race relations as its intention is to prevent discrimination based on race.

“The law is drafted based on the United Kingdom’s Race Relation Act 1976 to ensure that a person will not be discriminated in the employment sector as well as when purchasing goods,” he said yesterday.

It was reported that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had announced that the Government was expected to table the Bill in the next parliament session in March.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk S.K. Devamany noted that other countries also had similar legislation and said it would act as a guideline to prevent race-based discrimination.

“We must understand that Malaysia is a multiracial country and we want to preserve unity. We do not want issues such as the Kampung Jawa temple demolition matter or the Interlok novel controversy to divide us even more,” he said.

Pakatan Rakyat MPs have rejected the proposed law, claiming there were adequate laws and policies to deal with racial discrimination and inequality.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar said it was unnecessary for the Government to table another Bill to regulate race relations and foster mutual understanding among the races.

“Currently, we have the Sedition Act and the Penal Code which deals specifically with people who play up and create racial and religious tension. The current laws just need to be implemented properly,” he said

PKR vice-president Tian Chua said the Government should not rush into tabling such an important Act and should consult all relevant parties to ensure it was smoothly implemented.