KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 6 ― A minister’s controversial call for Malays to boycott Chinese traders is gathering steam online, with a Facebook page targeting products and businesses ostensibly owned by members of the community gaining renewed attention.
Named “Boikot Barangan Cina DAP ORI” or BBCD, the page also repeats minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s linking of Chinese firms to federal opposition party DAP, and liberally uses pictures of the party’s leaders in posters calling for the boycott.
The page also advances the minister’s call for Malays to boycott Chinese traders who refused to lower prices, and called for an avoidance of products as long as they were Chinese owned and in favour of Malay and Acehnese alternatives, many of which are owned by tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.
On it, it lists product and services purportedly owned by Chinese businessmen, and provided alternative “Malay brands” for Malay consumers to choose from.
Some brands identified as Chinese owned and to be boycotted include The Star, F&N, Yeo’s, Ayam, Planta, Anchor, and Naturel.
“Malay” brands that the community should support are tycoon Syed Mokhtar’s MPH bookstore chain as well as his Bernas rice brands and Gardenia bakery products, Felda-owned Aliff and Saji, and Sime Darby items, among others.
One picture featured rice brands that have logos of mosques that were crossed out , with the page administrator claiming: “Any food item that is marked with the image of mosques on the packaging is Chinese owned.”
“Mohon bantu CLICK SHARE sebab ramai ahli keluarga kita, jiran kita, dan rakan rakan kita yang tak tahu akan hal ini. Jom buat sebaran. CLICK SHARE! (Please click and share because many of our families, our neighbours, and our friend do not know of this matter. Let’s spread it. Click share),” the page exhorted.
The administrator also advised Malay consumers to only purchase “Chinese products” when left with no choice, and even then, only from Malay-owned stores.
“If you can’t find these Malay products, you may also buy Chinese goods on the basis of need but make sure to buy from Malay/Achehnese. At least your money also aids Muslims. Eventually your money may reach the Malays too,” it added.
Besides rice and vermicelli, the page also lists “Malay” condensed milk, sardine, cooking oil and margarine brands.
BBCD also sought to “expose” Chinese-owned businesses that it said were masquerading as Malay brands by using Malay models.
The page has gained over 54,000 “Likes”, suggesting the resonance its message is finding among the Malays.
“Please reveal all Chinese products so we now which they are to make it easy to boycott. No need to buy from the unclean Chinese and let us know which are the Malay products we support,” wrote one commenter named Adam Bustaman.
Others asked why Islamic authorities permitted the supposedly Chinese businesses to use images of mosques on their packaging.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob allegedly called for a boycott of Chinese traders in 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, Ismail Sabri has resumed 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.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Cabinet was informed that Ismail Sabri's remarks were directed at all businesses that refused to lower prices and not those belonging to specific races, adding that the minister meant consumers should use their power to force traders to lower prices.