Thursday, November 06, 2008

Indonesia Passed Anti-Discrimination Bill

History is made when blacks, who were denied suffrage as late as half a century ago, could rise to become a democratically elected president of the United States of America. What's more, Barrack Obama is actually a first generation American, where his father had migrated from Kenya.

But lets not look so far across the Pacific Ocean for an inspiring example of positive nation-building. Just a few days ago, Indonesia, who often perceived as "inferior" and "backward" to Malaysia, has just last week passed a groundbreaking law to legislate against racial discrimination.

As reported by Jakarta Post, the Indonesian House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill that terms ethnic and racial discrimination as serious crimes.
Deputy Speaker Muhaimin Iskandar, who presided over the House's plenary session to approve the draft law, said Indonesia no longer had any room for any form of racial or ethnic discrimination.

Chairman of the House's special committee deliberating the bill, Murdaya Poo, said the endorsement of the bill should put an end to the long-standing dichotomy between indigenous and non-indigenous people in the country.

"A man cannot choose to be born as part of a certain race or ethnic group, and therefore discrimination must cease to exist," said Murdaya, who is Indonesian-Chinese.

He said the House proposed the bill as part of its effort to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, which has been enacted since 1999.

Under the new law, leaders of public institutions found guilty of adopting discriminatory policies would face jail terms one-third more severe than those stipulated in the Criminal Code.


"We decided to set prison as the minimum sentence to deter people from committing racial or ethnic discrimination," said Murdaya, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Will a bill as such see the light of day in our beloved country?
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