Azmin Accused Of Reinforcing Racial Stereotypes In Parliament

The International Trade and Industry Minister (MITI) was talking about savings for car buyers under the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA).

Cover image via Buletin TV3/YouTube

Gombak Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has been accused of using racial stereotypes in Parliament yesterday, 22 July

Azmin, who is also the International Trade and Industry Minister (MITI), was talking about the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) and how much savings the plan can give to car buyers during this period.

In his example, he said fictional character 'Mak Cik Kiah', who decided to buy a RM44,590 Perodua Myvi, will be able to enjoy RM1,561 in a tax exemption under the plan.

"Another example, when 'Encik Ong' buys an imported Mercedes-Benz S560, it will cost RM658,888 and he will be able to enjoy..." Azmin said, before being interrupted by Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad.

Gombak MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Image via Buletin TV3/YouTube

Khalid said Azmin's examples were problematic as they reinforce racial stereotypes

"Why would a Malay buy a Myvi and a Chinese buy a Mercedes?" asked Khalid, who is the former federal territories minister.

"This is a racial stereotyping. I need to highlight this."

Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said tried to cut Khalid off, saying that it was Azmin's time to speak.

"Shah Alam MP is a racist," Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Rahim remarked while Azalina was speaking.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad.

Image via Free Malaysia Today

Following the fuss in the House, Azmin said he could change the example

"What I said was just an example. But I can change," he said.

"In another example, when 'Encik Khalid' buys an imported Mercedes-Benz S560, it will cost RM658,888. With the 5% sale exemption tax, he will just need to pay RM646,620 and enjoy a tax exemption of RM12,262 or 1.86%."

The House heard a wave of laughter when MPs realised the name was swapped to Shah Alam MP's name, to which the latter interjected again, saying Azmin should use the term 'YB' instead of 'Encik'.

After Azmin was done with his speech, Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming seconded Khalid that it was inappropriate to paint a picture that the Chinese community is rich

Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming.

Image via Buletin TV3/YouTube

"I agree with the Shah Alam MP that we should not stereotype," said the Bangi MP, whose surname is also Ong.

"There is no need for stereotypes of Chinese buying Mercedes, the Malays buying Myvi. This gives an inaccurate portrayal."

Watch the ruckus in the Dewan Rakyat at 33:53 below:

Recently, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also brought up similar myths about the Malaysian Chinese community being a "wealthy lot":

In mid-June, Putrajaya announced that sales tax on passenger cars will be reduced until the end of 2020:

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