Saturday, May 18, 2013
The call by pro-Umno bloggers and Muslim groups for a boycott of Chinese businesses is racist and will harm the country’s economic growth, according to businessmen from the community.
Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 4.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year as a result of weaker exports and slower growth in public spending, compared to 4.7 per cent in the same quarter in 2012 and 6.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2012.
“How can you say boycott? Who loses? The government and Malaysia are the ones that will lose out,” Chen Kien Keong, chairman of the Tea Trade Association of Malaysia, told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
“The priority now is the economy... so few people also pay income tax,” he added.
Only 10 per cent of the working population in the country pays income tax.
Khoo Kah Jin, president of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Car Dealers and Credit Companies Association, said the call for a boycott of consumer goods produced by Chinese companies was “racist”.
“If they boycott Chinese brands, (the) Chinese can boycott Malay brands ― where does it end?” he told The Malaysian Insider.
“Politics is politics. This is all consumer items. How can you boycott? Leave politics aside,” Khoo added.
Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz was reported by national news agency Bernama last Wednesday as saying that the economy was forecast to grow between five and six per cent this year.
She added that resilient domestic demand would continue to be the “key driver of growth”, underpinned by sustained private sector expansion and backed by the public sector.
Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Hasan Malek said yesterday that Putrajaya did not approve of the boycott, but said that he could not prevent those who wished to do so.
Several pro-Umno bloggers and the Muslim Consumers Association Malaysia (PPIM) recently called for consumers to boycott or at least buy goods sold by Chinese companies last, including products such as Massimo bread, Cap Sauh wheat flour and items from the Old Town White Coffee chain.
PPIM wrote on its website that such “DAP products” must be boycotted by Malaysians who love peace and harmony.
Pro-Umno blog theunspinners.blogspot.com called last Friday for a “Buy Malay first! Buy Chinese last!” campaign and listed several consumer products sold by Muslims and by “DAP allies”.
The predominantly-Chinese DAP opposition party has been accused of instigating Chinese voters to abandon Barisan Nasional.
The minority race is seen to wield great economic clout despite only making up about 30 per cent of the country’s 28 million-strong population.
The list of products and firms of “DAP allies” includes the Isomax Isotonic drink, the Malta beverage, Buruh cooking oil as well as EconSave supermarkets, while examples of Malay alternatives were given as Gardenia bread, Saji cooking oil, Cap Bidara wheat flour as well as the Mydin supermarket.
Other pro-Umno bloggers involved in the campaign are bigdogdotcom.wordpress.com, gerakan-anti-pkr.blogspot.com, parpukari.blogspot.com, and anotherbrickinwall.blogspot.com.
The DAP won 38 federal seats out of Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 89 seats, making it the second-largest party in Parliament.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said last Saturday that the racist politics played by the DAP had prevented BN from winning more seats in the May 5 general election.
Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia suggested that the election outcome was a Malay versus Chinese vote by publishing on its May 7 front-page the headline: “Apa lagi Cina mahu? (What more do the Chinese want?)”
Najib has also attributed BN’s record losses to what he described as a “Chinese tsunami”, despite analysts noting increased support towards PR among the urban and middle-class electorate across racial lines, while BN held its ground in the rural heartland.