PETALING JAYA: With talk of “Buy Muslim-made first” going around social media, an academic has chided the Islamic party PAS for not understanding how world trade works before launching such campaigns.
Mohamad Ghouse Nasuruddin of Universiti Sains Malaysia said Malaysia’s economy relies on foreign direct investment, China-made products and the latest computer software to drive the technology sector.
“Very short-sighted,” he said about PAS. “They cannot rule the country. They need to understand trade. Computer software is made in Israel, too,” he told FMT, without specifying whether he meant any software in particular.
PAS has defended the campaign, in support of products made by Muslims, saying it should be seen positively as strengthening the economic power of Muslims and giving them a competitive edge.
However, Ghouse had concerns that the campaign was “politically motivated” and would be unhealthy in a multicultural society. “It will divide people. We are trying to unite the people and promote commonality among races,” he said. Race relations had “not been been rosy lately” but the campaign was not the way to handle the situation.
There has been rising concerns about support for political parties based on race and religion. PAS has long been at loggerheads with the urban-based secularist DAP, describing the Chinese majority party as racist, and urging Muslims to unite for the sake of race and religion.
Ghouse urged PAS not to sideline any community, who were trying to make a living “just like everyone else.”
Another economist, Yeah Kim Leng, said the campaign might backfire.
He said consumer spending patterns showed that people would buy the cheapest product, but if Malaysians started making purchases based on race or religion, they might not go for the most economical product.
Yeah, an external member of Bank Negara Malaysia’s Monetary Policy Committee, said many non-Muslim countries produced halal products. The current campaign urging Malaysians to buy from Muslims might affect local non-Muslim businesses which could eventually lead to retrenchment of workers, to cut cost.
Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah questioned the rationale for the campaign, reminding PAS that it had once campaigned on the slogan PAS For All. “What happened,” she said, describing the boycott campaign as being “ludricrous” in light of the PAS slogan used in the 2013 general election.
She said that boycotts were used in Islam against injustice to the citizen, as in the anti-apartheid movement to boycott South African products for its widespread discrimination against black citizens. “You don’t boycott because you want to discriminate against another race and to strengthen trade protection for your own kind,” she said.