One of the rallies set to take place on Saturday has been postponed – here’s what you should know

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is expected to speak at one of the rallies.
Singapore Press Holdings

This article was updated at 5:00pm on Dec 7.

A rally to celebrate Human Rights Day, originally scheduled for Saturday (Dec 8), has been postponed to the next day, The Star has reported.

Two major rallies were initially set to take place in Malaysia’s Klang Valley on Saturday.

One group – which includes opposition groups Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Umno and Malay-Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – plan to hold a public demonstration at an open field in Kuala Lumpur (KL).

New Straits Times reported that about 10,000 representatives from these three parties will monitor and coordinate the public demonstration.

Around 500,000 anti-International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) protesters will gather in KL at Dataran Merdeka from 2pm to 6pm to celebrate the non-ratification of the United Nations covenant, New Straits Times reported.

The Malaysian government recently backed away from ratifying the ICERD. Many Malay-Muslim groups had expressed concern that ratifying the ICERD would dilute their rights through changes to the bumiputera policy.

The government of Kelantan, which is PAS-led, has even declared Sunday a public holiday in support of the event.

Suhakam rally postponed

Less than 20km away in Petaling Jaya, the gathering organised by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), was meant to mark Human Rights Day, which falls on Dec 10. It was expected to be much smaller, with 3,000 participants, The Star said.

According to The Star, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was expected to speak at the Suhakam rally.

Suhakam’s Human Rights Day gathering – originally scheduled for 9am to 3pm – will now be postponed to a later date due to  “serious security risks”, its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismai was quoted by The Star as saying on Friday afternoon.

In an update, Suhakam added on Twitter that it will move its Human Rights Day celebration to Sunday (Dec 9).

Both gatherings were given the green light by the authorities earlier, in a signal of higher tolerance for freedom of expression under the six-month-old Pakatan Harapan government, The Star reported.

Although Suhakam said its rally was planned months ago, the coalition of Malay NGOs Ummah – the key organiser of the anti-Icerd rally – said it had not been aware of the event in Petaling Jaya.

People’s Justice Party president Anwar Ibrahim, who was reportedly invited by the organiser to the anti-ICERD rally, said that he would not attend, but stands with the Cabinet on its decision to not ratify the anti racial discrimination convention, reported The Star.