Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Zahid Hamidi concured with the proposal by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Muslim countries boycott US-made goods in protest against the attacks on Palestinians. [The Star, 5/1/09]
The recent Israeli aggression in retaliation towards Hamas' rocket attacks caused ripples of anger across the Muslim world. Malaysia, being a Muslim-majority nation was also caught in the wave where recently street protests were held in support of the Palestinian people. While many are outraged towards the United States and Israel, there has been a suggestion calling Muslim countries to boycott U.S.-made products and companies with Israeli connections.
Even former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad surprised everyone when he proposed that Malaysia should do the same as a sign of protest against Israel's aggression and the indecisiveness of the Americans in resolving the matter. His view was shared by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Zahid Hamidi (image) who said he would present the proposal to the Cabinet soon.
I will not get into a debate on Israel's right to invade Gaza or whether Hamas are the actual perpetrators of this mess. But we all agree that innocent Palestinians; women and children are the real victims of war. While everyone has their own views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, I will not comment on this rather sensitive issue. However, what has come to my attention is the suggestion by certain parties to boycott U.S. products - a move, in my opinion is naive in many aspects.
First, let me stress that this is not a religious issue as there are also non-Muslim organisations who have supported this proposal.
But to those who are calling for the boycott of U.S. goods, do you think that by doing so, it is an effective way to protest against Israel or America? I mean, come on...seriously? Do you actually think that the entire American economy will collapse when we refuse to buy their goods so that in time, they would not be able to fund their war efforts?
In fact, boycotting U.S.-made goods would do us more damage than good. Consider the following, before any judgement is passed on me as a pro-American, anti-East or whatever you may call it (source: Bernama):
So here is my two cents worth. Whether we like it or not, the U.S. is a major player in our economy and will likely still be in the coming decades. Hence, to simply suggest that we boycott U.S. goods is easier said than done.
Also, the people who are calling for a boycott of U.S. goods are simply clueless, if not blinded by shear unrealistic idealism. There have been brochures and images circulating around the internet through local blogs, urging the masses to reject U.S. brands and companies such as McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Coca-Cola and etc.
But do they not know that these companies are franchises and hire Malaysians by the thousands in their workforce? I'd like to advise them to walk into any American fast food outlet mentioned in the above and see how many Americans are there behind the cashiers and in the kitchens. Or try visiting the Intel plant in Penang and count how many Malaysians are currently employed there.
Click here for the list of American companies and brands with Israeli connections (?).
One blogger even suggests that by boycotting U.S. products, the rural industries would be given the opportunity to expand [link]. Apparently, rural researchers have come up with a way to replicate Microsoft's Windows with bamboo frames.
That being said, the fact that they are rallying support through blogs hosted on American servers like Wordpress or Blogger already spells hypocrisy. Are not Intel chips American? Or the internet, was it not initially American? Google? Yet, they appear to be selective in their boycotting spree.
The very same people who are urging for a boycott repeatedly say that Israel should not punish the Palestinian people for the politics of Hamas. And yet, they are attempting to 'punish' American companies for the politics of their government. Why the double standards? Is that not a form of hypocrisy too?
There is a reason why both the Prime Minister and the International Trade and Industry Minister are keeping mum on this issue. The act of boycotting Malaysia's largest cumulative foreign investor would have dire consequences on our economy and they both know it.
We may protest all we want but let us all be realistic when making our stand towards the U.S. Boycotting U.S. products will not stop Israeli tanks from entering Gaza neither will it persuade Hamas to drop its arms. As a matter of fact, such a move will only see ourselves kissing our hard-built economy goodbye. Is our economy the price to pay for unrealistic idealism?