After Ismail Sabri cleared, MP asks if OK for Umno ministers to be racist

PKR MP Sim Tze Tzin (pic) says he is shocked with Putrajaya's parliamentary reply that explained datuk Seri Ismail Sabri's call was ‘directed to all races and not certain races’. ― File pic
PKR MP Sim Tze Tzin (pic) says he is shocked with Putrajaya's parliamentary reply that explained datuk Seri Ismail Sabri's call was ‘directed to all races and not certain races’. ― File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 ― Putrajaya's absolution of Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob over the minister’s controversial call for a racial boycott raises questions on whether the government condones racism, PKR MP Sim Tze Tzin said today.

Sim said he was shocked with Putrajaya's parliamentary reply that explained Ismail Sabri's call was “directed to all races and not certain races”.

“This is clearly against the agriculture minister's statement that clearly only points fingers at the Chinese traders,” the Bayan Baru MP told reporters today, referring to Ismail Sabri's initial Facebook remark calling Malays to boycott Chinese traders.

Sim was referring to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim's parliamentary reply yesterday.

“Does this mean the government of Malaysia is now condoning racism? Are statements that are racist in nature that come from Umno ministers allowed?” Sim asked, quizzing Umno's allies MCA and Gerakan on what their response would be.

Referring to an identical response from Shahidan, DAP Perak chief Nga Kor Ming also insisted today that the minister apologise for his parliamentary reply.

Nga accused Shahidan of giving a “false” answer and purportedly lying openly with his reply, saying: “I ask him to openly apologise to Parliament.”

Shahidan’s reply mirrored a statement last month by issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, which stated that the Cabinet was informed that Ismail Sabri’s remarks regarding the price of goods was directed at all traders and not those of certain ethnicities.

In the statement, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that Ismail Sabri meant consumers should use their power to force traders to lower prices, adding: “As such, any disputes that may lead to racial polarisation in the country should not be extended as these will only bring detriment to all.”

Ismail Sabri on February 2, allegedly told Malays using Facebook to boycott Chinese traders in a bid to pressure them to lower their prices, 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 claimed 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 a subsequent statement that same day, he resumed the original message that Malay consumers to use their majority power and target the minority Chinese traders who raised prices, while claiming that Chinese consumers stand to benefit from the boycott call.

Following a Cabinet directive to him, Ismail Sabri said on February 13 that his controversial remark was “clearly” directed at traders who refused to lower prices, also saying that he regretted his remarks.

“My comment that was made privately went ‘viral’. I regret the statement has raised racial sentiments. All indignation is regretted,” the agriculture and agro-based industries minister said in a statement.

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