KUALA LUMPUR - A federal minister was wrong to single out Chinese traders for profiteering as their Malay and Indian counterparts are just as open to the unfair trade practice, Umno veteran leader Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said today.
Salleh Said said the minister made a “mistake” by linking ethnicity to the problem, but supported him for pointing the reality of prices that consumers must now pay for goods and services.
“Malays and Indians will go all out to make a buck just like the Chinese would. So in that sense it would be unfair to target just the Chinese for criticism,” the Sabah Umno deputy state liaison chief wrote on his blog today.
Although Salleh Said did not mention Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob by name in his blog post, he confirmed to Malay Mail Online that he was commenting on the minister's remark that “equates profit with race”.
Earlier in the same blog post, Salleh Said said profiteers are also “colour-blind” and will not hesitate to prey on those of the same ethnicity.
“Hence, when it comes to making a profit the profiteers do not care whom they profit from. They will profit from anyone they can and they do not discriminate based on race,” the Sabah Speaker said.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Ismail Sabri allegedly called for a boycott of Chinese traders in a bid to pressure them to lower prices of goods sold, saying: “As long as Malays don’t change, the Chinese will take advantage to oppress the Malays.”
The entry has since been removed as the minister later clarified in a second Facebook post that he meant consumers were the majority and traders the minority, and was directing his remarks at unscrupulous Chinese traders instead of the entire Chinese community.
But in his most recent statement, Ismail Sabri has resumed telling Malay consumers to use their majority power and target the minority Chinese traders who allegedly hike up prices of their goods and services, also claiming that Chinese consumers stand to benefit from the boycott call.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Cabinet was informed that Ismail Sabri's remarks were directed at all businesses that refused to lower prices and not those belonging to specific races, adding that the minister meant consumers should use their power to force traders to lower prices.