PETALING JAYA: Any form of boycott would only hurt fellow Malaysians. As such it is vital to support Malaysian brands and products, says a group of prominent opinion leaders.
The leaders, who described themselves as concerned Malaysians, said it was vital to support all Malaysian brands and products to strengthen the economy.
Boycotts along racial and religious lines were not only impractical but also hypocritical in the modern-day economy, they added.
“Given the fact that all of us use products from all over the world. From clothing to food, to technology and transportation, every item we use or consume could be traced back to producers, founders and manufacturers of various religions, ethnicities and even nationalities.
“Such is the nature of the globalised economy. So how can we then say with absolute certainty that we are only using or consuming goods from members of our own race and religion?
“As Malaysians, our lives and livelihoods are significantly interconnected. A Malay makcik selling nasi lemak in front of a Chinese factory every morning to support her family is a common sight in a diverse and multi-ethnic country like ours.
“So is seeing an Indian roti seller plying his wares in a predominantly Malay-Muslim neighbourhood.
“Are we willing to let this uniqueness that define us disappear thanks to the divisive rhetoric of the select few?” said the group in a statement signed by 12 leaders.
They are Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, Anas Zubedy, Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, Syed Sadiq Albar, Nurul Haqq Shahrir and Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.
The others are Datuk Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, Datuk Hussamuddin Yaacub, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos and Tan Sri Johan Jaafar.
Malaysians should also make it a goal to help local businesses to grow, keep prices down, curb the rising cost of living, emphasise affordable but quality “Made in Malaysia” products.
It also reminded the groups that Malays and Muslims hold a substantial number of shares in most public-listed companies, and are represented on the board of directors of such companies.
“Most Malaysian companies have also invested in ensuring that their products are halal-compliant and certified. Malaysia is now considered one of the top halal hubs in the world, thanks to the concerted efforts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, ” it added.
The group said the calls for buying Muslim products first or boycotting products made by non-Muslims might seem smart to some segments of the Muslim community.
“If they were to study this deeper, however, they will find such moves to be very unwise.
“Many non-Muslim companies have a significant number of Muslim staff. In fact, in many instances, they even form the majority, ” said the leaders.
They added that even when a business was predominantly run by non-Muslims, economic activities formed chain reactions that involved each and every community.
This ranges from the sourcing of the raw materials, to producing and supplying the product to end customers.
“That is the fundamental basis of the economy, be it at the national or even global level.
“Furthermore, all profit-making companies, regardless of ownership, pay taxes that are then used towards the benefit of Malaysian society as a whole.
“These include employing and sustaining our civil servants, building our national infrastructure and enhancing our public services such as healthcare, education and more, ” it added.
The group said that taxes paid by all Malaysian-owned companies had also contributed to the betterment of Islam in the form of the annual government budget allocation to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).
“Thus, it is indeed unfortunate that the few who are propagating this exclusionary approach either fail to understand the basics of economics or are simply attempting to spread an insidious agenda; all the while playing with the emotions of the average Muslim, ” added the group.