Press Release: There should be No Space for Racist Rhetoric in Malaysia

Wednesday, 08 May 2013 05:13pm


The Malaysian Bar is troubled by the racially-charged comments reported in the media in connection with the recently concluded federal and state elections. Such divisive rhetoric has the effect of demonising Malaysians by virtue of their race, fostering ill will, and causing disharmony and disunity, and is a potential precursor of conflict. This is wholly irresponsible and should have no place in Malaysian politics and public discourse.

We ask that the Prime Minister show leadership for the country, and we welcome his call for national reconciliation. As a nation we must move away from racial divides; instead, we should emphasise commonalities and promote a shared Malaysian identity.

Malaysian leaders should not resort to reprehensible and dangerous gimmicks as a convenient camouflage for perceived weaknesses or shortcomings, or as comfort for disappointments. Only those bereft of ideas and leadership abilities would resort to such tactics. It serves no good purpose, but only self-interest, to speak of and emphasise the elections results along racial lines. Former leaders should retire graciously and gracefully, and refrain from expressing views that serve to fracture rather than build the nation. They should strive to nurture peace. Spewing venom and spreading discord must not be the Malaysian way, and right-thinking Malaysians must reject such practices.

The media also have a responsibility to refrain from writing and publishing articles that would foment racial discord. Whether as politicians, journalists, bloggers or netizens, those who participate in the public sphere should exercise freedom of expression responsibly and respectfully. Our leaders must not, and should not be seen to, endorse the publication and dissemination of racist messages. Ultimately, it was Malaysians who were substantially the electors.

The Malaysian Bar commends the police for their prompt response and action in investigating such publications, in particular their investigations of a national newspaper for its publication on 7 May 2013 and of comments on blogs.

Christopher Leong
Malaysian Bar

8 May 2013

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