Malaysian police to record statement of Cabinet minister who called for boycott of Chinese businesses

Malaysian Agriculture minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had remarked on social media urging Malays to boycott Chinese businesses that refuse to reduce their prices despite the drop in fuel costs. -- PHOTO: THE STAR
Malaysian Agriculture minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had remarked on social media urging Malays to boycott Chinese businesses that refuse to reduce their prices despite the drop in fuel costs. -- PHOTO: THE STAR

PETALING JAYA - Malaysian police will call Agriculture Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob over his remarks in social media urging Malays to boycott Chinese businesses that refuse to reduce their prices despite the drop in fuel costs.

On his @KBAB51 Twitter account Monday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said: "@PDRMsia will call Menteri Pertanian (Agriculture minister) to record his statement on the issue. The police will ensure that harmony between races is respected."

In the posting, Mr Ismail said while the authorities enforced current price-control laws, consumers wielded the greatest power against unscrupulous traders.

"The majority of consumers are Malay, Chinese are a minority. If the Malays boycott their businesses, they will surely have no choice but to reduce the prices of their goods," he wrote.

His posting on Facebook caused an uproar with opposition Democratic Action Party's Lim Kit Siang asking why police had not acted against Mr Ismail, Malaysian Insider reported. He said that if a similar remark had been made by an opposition politician against Malay traders, Khalid would have immediately taken action.

"Has the Inspector-General of Police's (IGP) Twitter account broken down or is Bukit Aman (police headquarters) having problems with Internet access," the DAP parliamentary leader said in a statement earlier.

Malaysian Chinese Association had also criticised Mr Ismail, saying race should never be made a factor in this issue. MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong expressed shock and fury.

"As a minister, he should not make such ethnic generalisations. Ismail cannot tarnish the reputation of all Chinese.

"If he continues to stand by his statement, we will not discount the option of raising this matter with the Cabinet," Dr Wee told reporters on Monday.

MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon was also critical of the boycott call, saying it was "seditious" and "unforgivable".

"Unscrupulous traders can be from any race. It is seditious to label all Chinese businessmen as evil and Malays as innocent victims. This is an attempt to divide us," said Mr Chong in a statement.

He said Ismail's remarks did not represent the Cabinet's or Barisan Nasional's stand and even went as far as to say Mr Ismail was not fit to be a minister.

Even though the minister's original post was no longer visible on his timeline on Monday, he had confirmed the original statement was his, while responding to a query from Facebook user Putera Zul.

Later on Monday, Mr Ismail posted a response, saying his statement was not directed at all Chinese but only the Chinese entrepreneurs who refused to reduce prices of goods.