KUCHING (Sept 17): The government should consider enacting a specific law to address discrimination in Malaysia, said Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia Faculty of Syariah and Law associate professor Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow.
He said discrimination is prejudicial treatment of individuals or groups based on characteristics such as background, skin colour, religion, personal belief, race, gender, age, sexual orientation and political affiliation.
“Explaining why discrimination happens is complicated. The human brain naturally puts things in categories to make sense of the world.
“The values we place on different categories are learned from our parents, peers and the observations we make about how the world works. Often, discrimination stems from fear and misunderstanding,” he said in a statement today.
Muzaffar said the 2023 Malaysian Discrimination Situation Survey conducted by the Architects of Diversity Malaysia (AOD) had found that only 45 per cent of Malaysians were satisfied with government’s initiatives to address discrimination in the country.
He said the survey discovered that 64 per cent of the 3,238 respondents, 1,469 of whom aged between 25 and 39, had encountered some form of discrimination over the past 12 months.
“The survey has found that Malays and Indians are more likely to report experiencing pay-related discrimination than the Chinese,” he said.
He opined that discrimination is a very serious issue which needs to be addressed through comprehensive and effective law.
“We cannot simply tackle the issue under any existing law in the country as each of the existing law has their own limitation in terms of its implementation and enforcement,” he said.
As such, Muzaffar called for a specific law to be enacted to address discrimination in the country.
He said the government may emulate the approach taken by other countries in addressing the matter through legislation like Australia, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Discrimination should be seen as a serious public health issue and needs to be addressed seriously and effectively. When perceived, discrimination can lead to a cascade of stress-related emotional, physical, and behavioral changes,” he added.