An open letter to Ismail Sabri

By Medecci Lineil

Last week you (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob) posted on Facebook a call for Malay consumers to boycott Chinese businesses as an attempt to lower price of goods.

First of all your statement was incredibly stupid because the price of goods has nothing to do with racial preferences.

Your call to boycott Chinese businesses won’t hurt them, it will hurt consumers, employees and producers.

Staging a boycott against Chinese businesses does not change the guided self-interest of consumers’ regardless race and religion.
As for prices, if you want to know who determine prices, please go back to supply and demand and find out what is that leads to both of them.

In free market economy, it is consumers determine prices.

Consumers who have subjective value scales of demand like food, clean water, education, health, religion, law or furniture while businessmen who seeking to foresee as accurately as they can the future value scales of consumers.

In the end, both consumers and businessmen determine supply and demand, thus the prices of all goods sold in the marketplace.

In politics, it is common for politician like you and those desiring special privileges to refer price of goods to Chinese businesses, Malay businesses and Indian businesses.

Politicians make damaging statements, a crisis later they will apologise to public and accuse media for misquoted. We all know what politicians do in crises, they respond.

Until all these politic terms and acts are dropped and you recognise that only consumers determine prices, the solution to the mess in which you seek will not be found.

Many people viciously condemned and insulted you as brainless politician. What is so proud about family members engaged in “Instagram war” with users over a stupid statement you issued in the first place?

As a result of your action, you have destroyed the harmony and peaceful cooperation of the marketplace.

Second, you reportedly said that the greatest power lies with consumers. This statement sounds brilliant.

To act brilliant, you must tell government to abolish the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries and Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism, price control act and anti-profiteering act, abolish taxes, abolish government spending and stop inflating money immediately.

Only then, you would have lower and reasonable price of goods. Not all prices must be lowered when the price of oil falls. Or launch and officiate lower prices market programme involving whatever number of goods and services nationwide.

Besides we have so many vocal consumers groups and academics which can effectively represent many areas of consumerism such as home, health, food, education and so on.

Just let them do their job. In time, consumers would be well-protected.

Of course, sometimes consumers might be cheated. Again, their greatest protection has always been market competition. Let the consumers learn using their own wisdom and decisions.

If someone is loyal to a product, the company that makes it prosper and grow.

If he boycotts a product, his choice might likely involve the self-imposition of a cost that he will have to bear.

If he stops buying the product, the company makes it it goes out of business.

For instance, do you still remember reactions especially Muslim consumers when porcine DNA was reportedly found in Cadbury chocolate last year?

Some of consumers boycotted the company and some consumers went feasting on Cadbury chocolate to defend the halal status of the product.

After few days, Cadbury Malaysia’s announcement seen in major newspapers is an effort in winning back consumers especially the Muslims. Businesses please consumers, or die.

Didn’t you see how amazing the power of consumer to mobilise and organise mass awareness when their values are breached by businesses?

My point is, you are a minister. Politicians are harmful to the dynamics of free consumers.

First published at The Malaysian Insider on 15 February 2015.

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