KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — An MCA vice-president poured scorn today on the Umno minister who suggested opening a Malay-only tech mall, saying it was worrisome that a person of his position would propose an idea that could aggravate racial divisions in Malaysia.
Senator Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the suggestion by Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob for a "Low Yat 2" shows the minister has either ignored or failed to understand how to manage a multi-racial country like Malaysia.
"His statement is also tantamount to his conformity with the rumour mongers in the cyberspace - not only it is of little help in enhancing racial harmony, but will also further segregate the races and bring Malaysia towards racial disunity," she said in a statement, referring to the racially-tinged rumours that swirled during the Low Yat Plaza brawl last month.
"As a Cabinet Minister of a multiracial nation, Datuk Ismail Sabri should instead represent, and strive for the wellbeing of, all races including Malays, Chinese, Indians and other Bumiputeras, instead of continuously making ignorant statements, for to be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant," she added.
Chew, who is also a deputy minister, said it would be much better for Ismail to suggest interracial dialogues to promote better understanding among the races, instead of proposing ideas that may only create further tension.
On Tuesday, Ismail Sabri was reported saying that the MARA building’s third floor will be converted into a space for Malay gadget traders, with the whole building to be eventually turned into a mall similar to the capital city’s popular technology mall Low Yat Plaza.
Ismail Sabri, who was recently shifted to the rural and regional development ministry, dubbed the alternative technology mall as “Low Yat 2”.
“We target for 100 per cent of the traders to be from Malays. There has never been any distributor from the Malays, so we have to give them some leeway,” he was quoted saying by news site Astro Awani.
Last month, Umno Youth information chief Jamawi Jaafar urged Putrajaya to create an information technology and digital industry hub for bumiputeras in order to reduce dependency and check monopoly of “certain parties” in the telecommunications products business.
The suggestion came following a riot which erupted outside Low Yat Plaza earlier in July, following rumours on social media of a Chinese trader’s alleged sale of a counterfeit phone to a Malay man and subsequent calls for boycotts of alleged “cheating” Chinese traders and the mall itself.
But police later said the rumours were untrue, while the 22-year-old Malay youth — who was initially wrongly claimed to have been cheated — was charged over the theft of a mobile phone.