What is Race Relations Act? I found a similar named Act in UK, the 1976 version which was updated in 2000:
Items that are covered include discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin in the fields of employment, the provision of goods and services, education and public functions.
The Act also established the Commission for Racial Equality with a view to review the legislation.
The Act incorporates the earlier Race Relations Act 1965 and Race Relations Act 1968 and was later amended by the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, notably including a statutory duty on public bodies to promote race equality, and to demonstrate that procedures to prevent race discrimination are effective.
In 2003 additional regulations made certain forms of discrimination due to religious belief illegal also.
The Act (2000) is found here.
Back in Malaysia, MCA Youth proposed the setting up of the Act on 14th September, following the arrest of Sin Che journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, but the letting off of Ahmad Ismail:
The MCA has proposed to the government to draft a race relations act to strenghten relations among multi-ethnic Malaysians.
Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said such an act was relevant and necessary, in view of racial issues resurfacing and plaguing the nation, of late.
He said the proposed act could also reinforce efforts taken by the unity, culture, arts and heritage ministry to promote unity and solidarity among the people.
“We will propose to the ministry. Such act is needed to look into race relations, (and) how to engage a multi-racial community into postive relations and avoid discrimination.
“Some countries have in place, such an act, where you can’t discriminate or belittle other races,” he told reporters after opening The Federation of Malaysian Clans and Guild Youth Association’s annual meeting here today.
Barely 5 days after that, this is the response from Home Minister Syed Hamid (NST):
The Cabinet has agreed to enact an Act on race relations to prevent possible racial conflicts.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said Malaysia still had to cope with sensitive issues relating to racial problems and relationships despite having achieved its independence 51 years ago.
Syed Hamid said his ministry would be working closely with the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry in formulating the Act.
He was also quoted on Malaysiakini:
Responding to queries, the home minister said Shafie Apdal’s ministry will be drafting the law after consultations with various groups.
The Home Ministry is tasked with giving feedback on the penalties if the law is infringed.
On the need for the act, Syed Hamid said: “Even in the European nations, a law governing race relations is now important as they too are becoming ‘rainbow’ nations. What more for us?
“But the law is still in the early stages of drafting and it will be take some time before it is ready to be looked at.”
The minister also said that the cabinet will look at other countries’ race relation laws before deciding on Malaysia’s.
Basically, such Acts are to avoid discrimination in services, employment, public functions etc. But in Malaysia, it may also incorporate clauses to ban questions special rights of Malays, nationality of citizens, economic allocations etc.