2018 anti-ICERD rally

Last updated
2018 anti-ICERD rally
Date8 December 2018
Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur
Caused byProtest against ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
Methods Demonstration, praying (salat and dua), speeches
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
500,000 (expected participants)
55,000 (police estimate)

The Anti-ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) Rally or Himpunan Aman Bantah ICERD (Malay) is a rally that was held in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on December 8, 2018. The rally were organised by opposition political parties Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), with the support of various non-governmental organisations. [1]

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention. A third-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. The Convention also requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations.

Malay language Austronesian language

Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as parts of Thailand. A language of the Malays, it is spoken by 290 million people across the Strait of Malacca, including the coasts of the Malay Peninsula of Malaysia and the eastern coast of Sumatra in Indonesia and has been established as a native language of part of western coastal Sarawak and West Kalimantan in Borneo. It is also used as a trading language in the southern Philippines, including the southern parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Sulu Archipelago and the southern predominantly Muslim-inhabited municipalities of Bataraza and Balabac in Palawan.

Kuala Lumpur Capital of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, officially the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and commonly known as KL, is the national capital and largest city in Malaysia. As the global city of Malaysia, it covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 1.73 million as of 2016. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.25 million people as of 2017. It is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in Southeast Asia, in both population and economic development.


The rally was held in response to the new Malaysian government's ratification of the UN convention known as International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The opposition parties from UMNO and PAS seriously deny the convention to be ratified as it is contrary to the constitution, especially Malay and Bumiputra special rights. Even the government have announced to not ratify the convention on 23 November 2018, the main focus of this rally is to celebrate government's decision of not ratifying ICERD. [2]

Pakatan Harapan Malaysian political coalition

The Alliance of Hope is a political coalition in Malaysia. It is a successor to Pakatan Rakyat. It was established in 2015 as an opposition to the former-ruling Barisan Nasional. It is the largest bloc in the Dewan Rakyat and is the current ruling party of Malaysia. The coalition is allied with the Sabah Heritage Party (WARISAN) and the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) in the state of Sabah. At the state level, the coalition is the largest party in 8 of 13 state legislative assemblies and forms the government in the states of Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Johor and Sabah. Pakatan Harapan also form a government with two-thirds majority in the states of Penang, Selangor and Johor.

Constitution of Malaysia constitution

The Federal Constitution of Malaysia, which came into force in 1957, is the supreme law of Malaysia. The Federation was initially called the Federation of Malaya and it adopted its present name, Malaysia, when the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore became part of the Federation. The Constitution establishes the Federation as a constitutional monarchy having the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Head of State whose roles are largely ceremonial. It provides for the establishment and the organisation of three main branches of the government: the bicameral legislative branch called the Parliament, which consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate ; the executive branch led by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers; and the judicial branch headed by the Federal Court.

Malaysian Malay Ethnic group given special status in the Constitution

Malaysian Malays are Malaysians of Malay ethnicity whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in the Malay world. In 2015 population estimate, Malaysian Malays form 50.8% of the total population of Malaysia or 15.7 million people. They can be broadly classified into two main categories; Anak Jati and Anak Dagang.


The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention which commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. Malaysia is one of the 18 countries in the world that have not ratified this convention, it is also one of the two Muslim-majority countries that have yet to ratified along with Brunei. On September 28, 2018, the prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad addressed the UN General Assembly where new government has to "ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights", this include ICERD and other five unratified conventions. However, Khairy Jamaluddin debating the UN address that raised concerns about ICERD's impact on bumiputra privileges and special position of Malay and Islam in the country. [3] On 19th November, 2018, in Parliament, Waytha Moorthy, who is in charge of National Unity and Social Wellbeing, started speaking on the intention of the government in ratifying ICERD and said that consultations with relevant stakeholders would be held in the first quarter of 2019. This was opposed by the opposition and started to attack him. [4]

Racial discrimination refers to discrimination against individuals on the basis of their race. Policies of racial segregation may formalize it, but it is also often exerted without being legalised and also it means facing injustice.

Brunei Southeast Asian coastal sovereign state

Brunei, officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace, is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, the country is completely surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang. Brunei is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island's territory is divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei's population was 423,196 in 2016.

Mahathir Mohamad Malaysian politician

Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad is the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He was appointed Prime Minister in 1981, retired in 2003, and returned to the office in 2018. He is the chairman of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, as well as a member of the Parliament of Malaysia for the Langkawi constituency in the state of Kedah. Mahathir's political career has spanned more than 70 years starting with his participation in protests against non-Malays gaining Malaysian citizenship during the Malayan Union through to forming his own party, the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (PPBM), in 2016.

On November 23, 2018, the Prime Minister's Office have announced to not ratify the convention and continue defending the Federal Constitution which contains a social contract that has been agreed upon by all races during the formation of the country. [5]


While the organizers have set a target of half-million people to attend the rally, the Kuala Lumpur police's official figures have estimated 55,000 people attending the rally (mostly PAS supporters), [6] including PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and former prime minister Najib Razak. In Kelantan, the state government have declared public holiday on the next day (9 December 2018) to allow Kelantanese people to attend the rally in Kuala Lumpur. [7]

Dato' Seri Tuan Guru Haji Abdul Hadi bin Awang is a Malaysian politician who has been President of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), an Islamic political party in Malaysia, since 2002. He was Menteri Besar of Terengganu from 1999 to 2004, and he was the state assemblyman for Rhu Rendang and currently Member of Parliament for Marang, both in Terengganu. At the international level, he has been appointed as the Vice President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

Najib Razak Malaysian politician

Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak is a Malaysian politician who served as the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018. He was the former President of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the leading party in Malaysia's Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which maintained control of Malaysia's government as a parliamentary majority for more than sixty years until the coalition's defeat in the 2018 general election.

Kelantan State of Malaysia

Kelantan is a state of Malaysia. The capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. The honorific of the state is Darul Naim. Kelantan is positioned in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia. It is bordered by Narathiwat Province of Thailand to the north, Terengganu to the south-east, Perak to the west and Pahang to the south. To the north-east of Kelantan is the South China Sea.


On the day of the rally before the rally started in 2pm, the silat alliance Pertubuhan Gabungan Silat Pertahan Perlembagaan (PERTAHAN) submitted a memorandum to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to express their protest over ICERD and other issues. [8]

Silat Indonesian martial arts

Silat is a collective word for a class of indigenous martial arts from the geo-cultural area of Southeast Asia. It is traditionally practised in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, portions of the Philippines, southern part of Thailand and central part of Vietnam. There are hundreds of different styles (aliran) and schools (perguruan) but they tend to focus either on strikes, joint manipulation, weaponry, or some combination thereof.

The rally started at 2pm with mass crowds marching to Dataran Merdeka from Masjid Negara, Masjid Jamek and Sogo complex and ended early at 5pm due to heavy rain.


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Politics of Malaysia takes place in the framework of a federal representative democratic constitutional monarchy, in which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is head of state and the Prime Minister of Malaysia is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the federal government and the 13 state governments. Federal legislative power is vested in the federal parliament and the 13 state assemblies. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, though the executive maintains a certain level of influence in the appointment of judges to the courts.

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The May Day Anti-GST Rally was a rally held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 1, 2014. The rally was organised by a coalition of 89 non-governmental organisations, including Oppressed People's Network, Parti Sosialis Malaysia, Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia, and Asalkan Bukan UMNO among others, and was supported by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat. The rally, which coincided with International Workers' Day, was held in response to the Malaysian government's plan to introduce the goods and services tax on April 1, 2015. The rally saw participants march from Kuala Lumpur City Centre and other rally points in the city to the eventual destination, Dataran Merdeka.

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The Malay Dignity rally was a rally that took place on 16 September 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The rally was organised by National Silat Federation, a silat Melayu federation of Malaysia. The rally aimed to counter the Bersih 4 rally and to show support for the incumbent Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak and his government. 16 September is the day of Malaysia's establishment. The rally organiser, also an UMNO Supreme Council member, Annuar Musa admitted that the rally was racist in nature and participants were paid to take part in the rally. An opposition media claimed that some of the participants who were ferried into Kuala Lumpur by buses from various parts of the country revealed they were clueless about the purpose of the rally, saying they were given the red T-shirts. Another opposition media claimed that an independent polling centre found that only 24% of Malays supported the rally, while 53% opposed it.

The Anti-TPPARally or Perhimpunan Aman Bantah TPPA (Malay) is a rally that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on January 23, 2016. The rally was organised by a coalition of non-governmental organisations, Bantah TPPA and Kongres Rakyat, and supported by various non-governmental organisations. The rally was held in response to the Malaysian government's signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in which twelve countries, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, Vietnam and including Malaysia concluded the trade negotiations in Atlanta on October 5, 2015. Opponents of the agreement argued that although TPPA could increase Malaysia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it was at the people's expense as it does not take into account issues faced by the people. The rally saw participants march from various points in Kuala Lumpur to their eventual destination, Dataran Merdeka.


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  2. "Anti-ICERD rally on Dec 8 to go on, but this time to celebrate - The Star Online". The Star Online. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  3. "The ICERD Outrage". Malaysiakini.
  4. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/19/opposition-lawmakers-protesting-icerd-start-racist-chant-against-waytha/#YDeAEyQtcRJi8KPB.99
  5. "Govt not ratifying ICERD - The Star Online". The Star Online. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  6. "Anti ICERD rally: So, what's the estimate?". New Straits Times. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  7. "In Kelantan, you get a Sunday off thanks to the anti-ICERD rally". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  8. "Silat alliance submits memo on ICERD, Malay issues at Istana Negara". New Straits Times. Retrieved 8 December 2018.