Malaysian minister labelled a racist in Parliament

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He was asked to explain what he said in old video clip

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian minister was labelled a racist in Parliament as opposition parties ratcheted up the tension surrounding the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The incident began when Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P. Waytha Moorthy touched on the issue, reported the New Straits Times.

He was then interrupted by a Barisan Nasional (BN) MP Reezal Merican Naina Merican, who asked Mr Waytha Moorthy to explain if the government will feel pressured by the United Nation (UN) on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution should Malaysia accede to ICERD.

Mr Waytha Moorthy said: "No. It will not amend Article 153."

Another MP from BN, Noh Omar, then asked the minister to explain an old video clip that had gone viral recently in which Mr Waytha Moorthy had slammed the government for discriminating against the Indian community.

"The Barisan Nasional government then practised discrimination and I have proof," Mr Waytha Moorthy said.

This led to anger among the opposition MPs, including those from PAS. Shouts were heard calling Mr Waytha Moorthy a "racist minister".

Outside of Parliament, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad also weighed in on the issue.

He said the Federal Constitution protects the special position and rights of the Malays, but has nothing to do with race supremacy, The Star reported.

"The term 'ketuanan Melayu' (Malay supremacy) is not in the Constitution. It only cropped up some time during the 12th General Election to discourage the Malays from supporting the non-Malays or the opposition," he said.

"The special rights of the Malays that have been enshrined in the Federal Constitution include the institution of the Malay sultans and the position of Islam as the Federal religion," he added.

The Parti Amanah Negara communications director said that it was strange for the Malays to say that they wanted to defend the right to discriminate among races, when, in his opinion, Islam rejected racial discrimination.

Mr Khalid made the comment yesterday when asked about Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's statement that implementing the ICERD would entail amending the Federal Constitution and that a two-thirds parliamentary majority was needed for this to happen.

"The New Economic Policy (NEP) was not a policy that referred to Malay supremacy. It was a 'social engineering' effort to correct the imbalance in society and eliminate poverty, regardless of race," said Mr Khalid.

"'Ketuanan Melayu' is a new term that previously did not exist, but was played up by Umno when they felt threatened," he said.