STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE MOHD KHALIL YAAKOB,
MINISTER OF INFORMATION, MALAYSIA
WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM, RACIAL
DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE
At the outset I would like
to extend our condolences to President Mbeki and the people of South Africa
on the recent demise of Mr. Govan Mbeki, a true son of South Africa.
2. On behalf of the people
and Government of Malaysia, I wish to convey to you personally, Madam President,
as well as to the Government and people of South Africa, our sincere appreciation
for your efforts in hosting this World Conference, in this beautiful city of
Durban. That this Conference is being held in South Africa is indeed a fitting
tribute to the great achievement and success of the people of South Africa,
who have persevered, in their long and arduous struggle against apartheid, an
achievement which is an inspiration to us all. Malaysians take pride in their
support for the people of South Africa during those dark days.
3. Racism is abhorrent
not only on its own, but as a root of many other more egregious forms of human
rights violations, such as genocide and ethnic cleansing. Indeed, the history
of the promotion and protection of human rights is, to a large extent, a history
of the struggle to eliminate racism. The first human rights convention was against
genocide, the most extreme manifestation of racism. It is important, therefore,
to note that this World Conference is not being held in a historical vacuum.
This Conference constitutes the third attempt by the international community
to banish the scourge of racism. We should seize this opportunity to adopt a
Declaration and Programme of Action that will provide us all with a clear road
map and practical measures to eliminate racism and related forms of intolerance.
4. In order to advance
our cause, the first significant step is to address the wrongs of the past,
particularly the negative consequences of colonialism, slavery and the slave
trade, as well as other extreme forms of racism. We have to come to terms with
the past to enable us to understand the contemporary problems relating to racism
and to better prepare ourselves for the future. Naturally, in this context,
it is a matter of utmost urgency that the perpetrators of these past injustices
acknowledge responsibility and recognise the depth of the wounds they have left
behind. Only then can relations among nations and people, especially between
former colonies and their colonial masters as well as between different races
within one nation, be placed on a sound footing.
5. Since the two earlier
Conferences against racism in 1978 and 1983, the scope of the present Conference
against racism has broadened considerably. The advent of globalisation and the
revolution in information technology have given rise to new challenges in efforts
to combat racism. The increasingly borderless world has intensified the level
of intra and interregional migration of people, especially those in search of
better economic opportunities. These people should not end up as victims of
racism. The use of information and communication technology, such as the Internet,
to not only incite social hatred but also facilitate the organisation of such
acts, also needs to be appropriately addressed. It is therefore important that
the two documents of the Durban Conference adequately address these new challenges.
6. Given the interdependence
of the world today, the search for global solutions for problems such as racism
must be undertaken through concerted international action. Undoubtedly, the
effective implementation of commitments made by members of the international
community at various international forums will go a long way in combating racism,
racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
7. Malaysia believes that
at the national level, Governments could and should exert greater efforts to
combat racism within their midst. We share the sentiment of the Secretary General
of the United Nations that every country draw up and implement its own national
plan to combat racism. Malaysia has always been committed to eradicating racism.
In our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, the development
of a united Malaysia is uppermost in the list of the Government's priorities.
Today, Malaysians live in a climate characterised by peace, harmony and mutual
respect. We are able to enjoy the fruits of development and progress, thanks,
in no small measure, to the appropriate and effective strategies developed and
implemented by the Government, with the participation of all segments of the
population, regardless of race or colour, and achieved through consensus building.
We believe that anywhere in the world, inclusiveness lies at the heart of any
government's efforts to eradicate racism.
8. The key to inclusiveness
is the inculcation of a spirit of mutual respect and care for humanity, which
is genuine and not academic in nature, practical and permeates the entire strata
of society. From the early years of independence, the Malaysian Government has
recognised that building a nation out of a diverse community, demands much more
than just forging consensus on the basic character of a state or nation. It
requires the sharing of historical
experiences, values and a sense of common destiny, which transcends racial differences.
9. It should be noted that
lifelong education nurtured through daily INI
interaction is as important as formal education in the formation of attitudes. Due ,; attention has thus to be given to this aspect. However, education alone is not
sufficient in efforts to combat racism. Recognising that inequitable development among the races is one of the main reasons for racial tension, the Malaysian Government has implemented socio-economic policies that promote the equitable participation of all races in the economic development of the country.
10. Victims of racism,
especially whose sufferings are longstanding, are looking at this Conference
to address their concerns. In this connection, Malaysia believes that one of
the issues that Conference has to specifically address is the plight of the
Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories for
over half a century is clearly more than a political conflict. The measures
that the Israeli Government continues to take in the name of security, has reached
dangerous and untenable proportions, amounting to an indiscriminate policy of
collective punishment and domination over the entire Palestinian population.
11. During the course of
negotiations on this issue, arguments were put forward to the effect that the
inclusion of the plight of the Palestinian people in the documents of this Conference
is unnecessarily provocative and will not facilitate the process of finding
durable peace in West Asia, and that the issue is best taken up in other forums.
Malaysia cannot subscribe to this argument. Indeed, the Conference would be
doing a grave injustice not only to the Palestinian people, but also to its
own history, as there are explicit references to this issue in the previous
two Conferences against racism. Given the gravity of the situation in the occupied
Palestinian territories, Malaysia urges the international community to assume
its responsibilities to end the conflict and ensure the restoration of the right
to life, liberty and selfdetermination of the Palestinian people.
12. The remaining days
ahead require that we demonstrate political will and wisdom in order that we
will leave Durban, united in our efforts to create a just and peaceful world,
through better relations among peoples and nations by eliminating the scourge
of racism, racial discrimination xenophobia and related intolerance.
I thank you, Madam President.