Irene Fernandez insists constitutional provisions inspire racial discrimination 

(The Malaysian Insider) – Human rights activist Irene Fernandez has stood by the findings of a report citing the Constitution’s protection of Malay rights for racial discrimination in Malaysia, insisting that certain provisions in the country’s supreme law should be amended or entirely removed.

The outspoken executive director of rights group Tenaganita said that the form of affirmative action in government policies that were inspired by Articles 89 and 153 of the Federal Constitution had only succeeded in benefiting an elite few among the Malay upper class.

“This form of affirmative action, these provisions, they are no longer relevant as they have failed and only benefited the top few.

“And this is clear even among the Malays and the Muslims themselves,” she pointed out when contacted by The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

On that note, Fernandez (picture) insisted that the joint study by Tenaganita and international charity organisation Equal Rights Trust (ERT) had been spot-on in suggesting the total repeal or amendment to certain provisions in the Federal Constitution.

She acknowledged that the study had ruffled the feathers of a few Malay right-wingers, including Malay rights group Perkasa, but said she would stand by the findings.

Perkasa Youth has labelled the veteran activist a “traitor” for the ERT-Tenaganita study titled “Washing the Tigers: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Malaysia”, and lodged a police report against her for allegedly questioning the special position of the country’s dominant ethnic group.

But Fernandez pointed out that the study, published on the ERT’s website on Monday, had been thorough in its research, even including case studies and interviews with numerous individuals before drawing up a conclusion and issuing recommendations.

“You can pull the yarn as far as you want,” she said, when pointed out that Perkasa members had even linked apostasy to the study’s recommendation to review constitutional provisions on Malay rights.

“But the issue in front of us is this — we as a nation, do we want to achieve equality and non-discrimination? If we do, we have to be bold enough to ensure that everyone has equal treatment that is guaranteed in the Federal Constitution,” she said.

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