KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim has denounced a recent social media campaign calling for a boycott of non-Muslim products, describing the move as unhealthy.
The campaign to "prioritise" and "support" Muslim-made goods has been in the limelight recently, with some quarters also calling for non-Muslims to stop using halal logos on their products. Halal means permissible in Islam.
"If you want to promote halal products, it is acceptable. But if you are trying to promote it by using a contentious issue, this is not healthy," Datuk Seri Anwar said yesterday.
Mr Anwar said that although it was acceptable for Muslims to promote halal products, there were also products made by others, such as Chinese manufacturers, which Muslims were permitted to use.
Mr Anwar, who is president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, said the racial connotation underlining the boycott campaign is not healthy for the nation's multiracial and multi-religious society.
Malay-Muslims form the majority of Malaysia's population, while the minority communities of Chinese and Indians are largely non-Muslim.
The campaign stemmed from an Aug 23 proposal by the Islamic Consumers Association of Malaysia to the Islamic Development Department for halal certificates to be issued in the native language of the product's manufacturers, so that consumers can identify if they are Muslim or otherwise.
The association's suggestion was criticised as divisive and racially polarising, but its proponents, including Gerakan Pembela Ummah and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia, had tried to present it as a call to buy Muslim-made goods rather than a boycott of non-Muslim products.
NOT HEALTHY FOR A MULTIRACIAL SOCIETY
If you want to promote halal products, it is acceptable. But if you are trying to promote it by using a contentious issue, this is not healthy.
MALAYSIAN POLITICIAN ANWAR IBRAHIM
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last Friday he disagreed with the boycott, pointing out that it was carried out by people with shallow thinking.
Politicians from both sides of the divide also condemned the campaign, with Mr Wee Ka Siong, president of the opposition Malaysian Chinese Association, saying the move is against the national interest and tantamount to economic sabotage.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had also urged Malaysia's two biggest Malay-based parties - Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - to condemn the boycott.
In response, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man accused Mr Lim of playing up racial sentiments and failing to respect the free will of Muslim consumers.
Additionally, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan urged Mr Lim to view the boycott "positively" for its benefits to uplift Malay-Muslim entrepreneurs and those in rural areas.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK