I’m no racist, I won’t apologise, Ismail Sabri says

Ismail Sabri said those who had attacked him should be the ones apologising. — File pic
Ismail Sabri said those who had attacked him should be the ones apologising. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has again insisted that he was not being “racist” when he urged for the boycott of traders who refuse to drop prices, pointing out that he was looking out for all ethnic groups by seeking to trim their living costs.

The Umno politician, who had sparked a storm of protests last week with his initial call for Malays to boycott unscrupulous Chinese traders, also repeated his refusal to apologise for his remarks.

Instead, he said those who had attacked him should be the ones apologising.

“Not possible that I’m racist, because what I do, if prices are reduced, those who get benefits are not just Malays, the Chinese also get benefits, the Indians benefit, the Kadazans, the Dusuns get benefits, the Dayaks get benefits and all other races will also get benefits,” he told an interview last night that was streamed live on Utusan Online.

The converse scenario would also see Malaysians of all races being forced to buy expensive goods when “stubborn” traders refuse to bring down prices, he said.

He then repeated his previous clarification that the “majority” group must determine the situation, instead of the “minority” deciding for the “majority”, likely referring to the power of consumers to force the smaller number of traders to scale down their prices.

Earlier in the same interview, Ismail Sabri explained that boycotts against errant middlemen in the supply chain are not based on their ethnicity, saying that it was a matter of coincidence if an ethnic group represented the majority of such group. 

“If the wholesalers, retailers, 99 per cent are from certain race, then we have to boycott them. We are not boycotting the race, but coincidentally, that race is the wholesalers,” he said, carefully avoiding naming the race.

Ismail Sabri said he guaranteed that he would not retract his controversial statement or apologise to anyone about it, saying he would only feel apologetic if he had not attempted to aid the public facing pressures in their living costs.

“I don’t apologise because my intention is to help the public, many whom are facing many pressures in these days. I should apologise if I don’t help the public. Now I help the public, so there should be no need for me to apologise.

“Those who should apologise to me are those who attack me who helps the public. Those are the ones who should apologise to me. So I feel, I will not apologise,” he said.

Last Monday, Ismail Sabri allegedly called for Malays’ boycott of Chinese traders in a Facebook post 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 the same day, Ismail Sabri had appeared to resume 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.