KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — A student group demanded an apology today from Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, calling the domestic trade, co-operatives and consumerism minister “worse than Datuk Ahmad Maslan” for using religion to explain rising prices.
Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany) president Ho Chi Yang said in a statement that it was “completely unprofessional” of Hamzah to claim that those who raise prices don’t believe in God as the minister should be seeking solutions instead of pointing fingers.
Ho noted that after the government rolled out the Goods and Services Tax (GST) last year, prices of goods all around became notably higher, adding greater burden to the lives of struggling Malaysians.
“Now, Hamzah Zainuddin attributed the reason for inflation to be related to the religions of the people. This proves that he is an unprofessional minister and he is worse than Datuk Ahmad Maslan,” he said.
Ahmad, a deputy minister, found himself the butt of online criticisms last year and in recent months after he took it upon himself to mitigate complaints against Putrajaya’s new consumption tax system.
Among others, Ahmad earned vitriol for telling students to cook their own meals to manage higher costs and most recently, urged Malaysians to work two jobs to achieve the same objective.
In the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Hamzah said in a reply to opposition lawmaker Dr Tan Seng Giaw that only those who don’t believe in God will raise the prices of goods and services.
His reply came after Dr Tan asked if the recent rise in prices was in the “hands of God”.
“YB Kepong asked if raising prices of goods is in the hands of God. God has never told anyone to raise prices or reduce it.
“It’s those who don’t believe in God [who] are the ones who always raise prices. Those who believe in God will follow ethical ways and not simply raise prices,” Hamzah said.
The Larut MP then suggested that the rival lawmaker’s query indicated the latter’s lack of faith.
“His question might be because he is unsure whether to believe in God or the otherwise,” Hamzah added.
Ho said, however, that the minister should know that his responsibilities include solving dilemmas faced by the public and not to use “ridiculous reasons” to explain matters.
He said Hamzah should issue a public apology for allegedly slighting Malaysians with his remark linking religion to rising prices.