ICERD a setback for Pakatan Harapan?

An aerial view of the rally

The anti-ICERD rally in KL yesterday can be seen as a victory for New Malaysia but what does it say for Pakatan Harapan.

While Umno and PAS covered the streets in a sea of white, supposedly to protest against adopting an international agreement to stop racial discrimination in the country, the message to government is clear.

Umno and PAS is still a force to be reckoned with and PH needs to tread carefully in these dangerous waters.

Race and religion continues to be a trump card for many and the budding alliance between Umno and PAS is testament to that.

Although ICERD is mainly about ending racial discrimination, it had been portrayed as an attack on Islam’s position in the country.

Some see that ICERD was merely a convenient tool for some to latch on. Politics always need issues and this time, it’s ICERD. 

Just like PH too, which latched on to fighting kleptocracy and corruption in the run up to the last polls. 

Every political entity needs an issue and PH just gave its detractors ICERD on a silver platter.

Surely Umno and PAS leaders are aware what ICERD is all about and the rally can be seen as a wish to show they can still muster the people and a warning to PH that the battle for Putrajaya continues.

It would also be easy to dismiss the rally as racist and just a political ploy but urban folks should wake up to the reality - that the thinking of rural population may differ. 

The sooner PH realises this the better as winning power means winning both rural and urban votes. 

Veteran MP Lim Kit Siang said the rally was a setback for PH in building a New Malaysia because the ICERD rally would not have happened if the government had handled the issue better.

As constitutional law expert Prof Shad Faruqi pointed out, most of the criticisms against ICERD have no legal basis and is neither anti-Malay nor against the Constitution.

Lim said Malaysia as a plural society, it was of utmost importance that the unity and harmony of our diverse races, languages, cultures and religions in Malaysia must be the paramount goal of the nation.

“For this reason, Malaysia should not ratify ICERD until the majority of the races and religions in Malaysia are comfortable with it, support it and understand that it poses no threat to the various races, religions or the Federal Constitution but a step forward to join the world in promoting human rights.

He said the government should not have allowed the organisers of the ICERD rally to hijack, twist and distort it with the toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion.

This is a lesson the government must learn quick and fast, or both PH and the great vision of a New Malaysia will be destroyed.