After viewing a short TV documentary on the late Nelson Mandela, it brought back some interesting memories. In 1964 when they put Mandela in jail, I landed in Sydney to start my education. I didn’t hear much of it until I was teaching at the University in the early 1970s. I remembered attending and participating in the protests against Apartheid and the Rugby team from South Africa; and supporting the international economic boycott of S Africa.
The world had begun to turn against S Africa apartheid policy in the 1970s. Our former PM Malcolm Fraser was involved with negotiations with S Africa government for Mandela’s release. It took 2 decades for the final release of Mandela from jail (1990). In a short period of a few years, he successfully united S Africans, black and white to form a democratic nation. We mourn his passing, but he will be remembered as first as the Father of the S African nation and globally, as one of our greatest leaders. What makes him a great man was his ability to forgive (his oppressors) and work for the future of his country.
Racism still exists in this world but we must rise up to oppose it. Racial bigotry can lead to racial discrimination, vilification and ultimately racial violence. It is a good sign that most Western countries have legislation against discrimination on grounds of race, aged, religion, gender etc. On occasions, someone will attempt to water down the regulations and we must be vigilant to prevent this occurring by reminding our politicians, in a democratic way that these changes are not in the interest of our nation.
All nations should follow Mandela’s vision to have a nation living in peace, harmony and prosperity, irrespective of race, religion or ethnic background. I also like to share with readers what Albert Einstein wrote “The world is a dangerous place to live in, not because man are evil, but good people did not do anything”.
I shall also take the liberty of sharing a piece of media release in Sydney in opposing the proposed change in legislation that would “water down” the current legislation.
Do not repeal Section `18C & 18D of the Anti-Discrimination Act
1 December 2013
The Chinese Community Council of Australia is deeply concerned about the intention of the Federal Attorney General to repeal provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act that make it unlawful to offend and insult people on the basis of their race. We consider that as a retrograde step in enhancing community harmony and cohesion in a multicultural Australia.
The provisions provided by Section 18C and 18D were introduced after major inquiries such as the National Inquiry into Racist Violence and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody These provisions are consistent with Australia’s international obligation to protect against racial hatred under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The repeal of these provisions will leave individuals and minorities groups without protection from the law in regard to racial vilification. The repeal would send the wrong message to those in the community who condone racial vilification and would ultimately lead to racial hatred and violence.
Australia is a model multicultural society with adequate protection against racial hatred, vilification and violence for its minorities. We have come a long way towards social cohesion and harmony in our communities and it would be a great pity to downgrade our global reputation and put us back 20 years in race relationship. Hence, we urge the Attorney General not to repeal Section 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Dr Anthony Pun, OAM
Chinee Community Council of Australia