We, a group of Malaysian NGOs, call for the resignation of the Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries, Ismail Sabri Yaakob for his racially directed statements on Facebook calling on Malay consumers to boycott Chinese traders as a mean to complement the Government’s efforts in price control.
The Minister was clearly irresponsible and playing to the racial and religious gallery on a subject of concern to all Malaysians.
Instead of providing a rational and fact-based explanation for the phenomenon of rising prices which affects all consumers, he has chosen to target Chinese traders who, according to all rigorous economic analysts, actually only play a minor role in the final price for goods and services.
It is the entire supply chain as well as the role of monopolies and semi-monopolies, both in the private sector and in GLCs, that needs to be examined.
Condemning traders, or any other business group in the country, on the basis of racial origin, and without providing any evidence whatsoever, is playing with fire and will only lead to racial misunderstanding and conflict.
Our concern has also been deepened by the Prime Minister’s defence of Ismail’s comments. His position on it is disappointing and unacceptable.
Like Ismail, we see the Prime Minister as pandering to his party’s political supporters; and for failing to ensure that our national interests and unity are protected, not undermined.
We are especially concerned with the possible ripple effects of this episode when the GST is introduced in April and results in further price rises. This is likely to lead to a new round of finger pointing and scapegoating. If not countered with calm and dispassionate public discussion and analysis, it will only widen the racial division in the country.
Finally, we would like to point out that all small traders, irrespective of their nationality, make a modest living, employ family labour, and live on small margins of profit. There may be some errant ones but the Government and the public needs to look for the blame for high prices paid by the Malaysian consumer in other quarters, beginning with the business tycoon cronies of the Barisan Nasional parties.
Endorsing organisations (in alphabetical order):
1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
2. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
3. Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BoPiM)
4. Community Action Network (CAN)
5. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
6. Friends of Kota Damansara
7. Ipoh Tamil Muslim Development Association
8. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
9. Japan Graduates Association, Malaysia (Jagam)
10. JIHAD for Justice
11. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
12. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)
13. Lingkaran Islam Tradisional (LIT)
14. LLG Cultural Development Centre
15. Malaysian Indian Muslim Action Council
16. Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
17. Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
18. Majlis Perundingan Malaysia Agama Buddha, Krisitian, Hindu, Sikh dan Tao (MCCBCHST or MPMA- BKHST)
19. Muslim Professional Forum (MPF)
20. National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT)
21. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
22. Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
23. Penang Tamil Muslim Association (PTMA)
24. People Welfare and Rights Organisation (POWER)
25. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
26. Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
27. Persatuan Bekas Siswazah Universiti dan Kolej di China, Malaysia (Liu-Hua)
28. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
29. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
30. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)
31. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
32. Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee
33. Sarawak Access (SACCESS)
34. Save Sarawak River (SSR)
35. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
36. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
37. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
38. Tamilar Action Force (TAF)
39. Tamil Foundation
41. The Federation of Chinese Association Johore State (FCAJ)
42. The United Chinese School Teachers’ Association of Malaysia (UCSTAM)
43. United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong)
44. United Chinese Schools Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM)
45. We are Malaysians
46. Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
5 February 2015