‘Buy Muslim-made products first’ campaign will divide Malaysians, says MP

(CNA) – The “buy Muslim-made products first” campaign will lead to racial polarisation, Democratic Actions Party (DAP) lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh said on Monday (Sep 2), speaking out against boycotts of non-Muslim goods.

Urging an immediate end to such boycotts, Mr Ramkarpal, the Member of Parliament for Bukit Gelugor, said the campaign serves no useful purpose and will only divide Malaysians.

“Encouraging a boycott on non-Muslim products by Muslims is wrong and goes against the spirit of our Federal Constitution which guarantees equality, which includes one’s right to livelihood,” he said.

A campaign in support of Muslim-made products has come under the media spotlight recently, with certain quarters also calling for a boycott of halal products made by non-Muslims.

Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) defended the “buy Muslim-made products first” campaign on Monday, claiming that it has a positive effect that will create a wider economic spillover.

The party’s secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said it is an “inclusive and competitive” move that should be viewed in a positive light.

“It will help small and medium entrepreneurs, as well as those from rural areas, to compete. At the same time, it will create more jobs for the people, especially the unemployed youths,” he said.

His statement drew a rebuke from Mr Ramkarpal, who said that Mr Takiyuddin should know the serious social ramifications of such a campaign.

PAS should encourage Muslim businesses to compete with all other businesses, Muslim or non-Muslim, the DAP politician said.

“We have been importing and exporting goods (from and) to non-Muslim countries for years without any problems and have enjoyed the benefits of doing so,” he added, citing exports of palm oil to India as an example.

“Takiyuddin may claim to have been referring to local industries but the same logic applies – restricting businesses according to race will have a negative impact on such businesses as this would result in a lack of competitiveness as they cater only for a restricted market,” he said.

The campaign has also drawn criticism from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who described the people who organised such boycotts as “shallow”.

“Boycott is a weapon that is ineffective. It only angers people. Don’t boycott anyone’s products, Malay or non-Malay,” he was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Insight on Friday.