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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 ― Barisan Nasional (BN) component party MCA today defended its opposition to the “Low Yat 2” mall mooted by a Cabinet minister specifically for Bumiputera traders, saying that creating a venue exclusively for one race was akin to the practice of racial segregation during apartheid times in South Africa.
In a statement, MCA publicity bureau chairman Datuk Chai Kim Sen stood by his party’s position that the proposal by rural and regional development minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri would only create further racial divide in Malaysia.
“Thus, Ismail Sabri’s proposal is no different than what was practiced by South Africa in the 1950s, where there were different complexes which catered for the ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ during that time.
“Such a policy contradicts Malaysia’s multi-cultural society of mutual respect, and will only serve to further degrade Malaysia into becoming an extremist state,” Chai said in the statement.
Chai added that while he understood that Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), the site of the proposed Bumiputera-only mall, was intended to facilitate Bumiputera and Malay community, Ismail Sabri’s idea for “Low Yat 2” would still affect racial harmony and “polarise the different communities.”
“In the field of business however, I strongly believe that we cannot force consumers to shop at a certain shopping complex, and that having a Malay-only ‘Low Yat 2’ will result in greater racial tension,” the statement read.
The MCA deputy national organising secretary also shot down Ismail Sabri’s claim that the party was behaving like that of the opposition, adding that defending the Chinese community did not automatically mean MCA was racist.
“Our disagreement with this project does not mean that we are copying the opposition, nor does it mean that we are being racist.
“We are merely pointing out that the establishment of an IT shopping complex with the purpose of catering to one specific race only is akin to apartheid,” Chai said.
Ismail Sabri had yesterday lashed out at “Low Yat 2” critics, especially MCA, arguing that MARA’s function was to prioritise Malay and Bumiputera development, which he said was in line with his proposal.
The minister also reminded MCA of its role as a BN component, telling the Chinese party that turning his suggestion into a racial issue was straining ethnic relations in the country.
The tech centre was recently proposed by Ismail Sabri to be established at the MARA building in Kuala Lumpur where it would only house Bumiputera traders.
The suggestion came following a riot which erupted outside Low Yat Plaza earlier in July, after a 22-year-old man was reportedly handed to the police for allegedly stealing a mobile phone, after which his accomplice contacted their friends who then assaulted workers from a mobile phone store and caused an estimated RM70,000 in damages.