With the race for Malaysia's next prime minister seemingly in its final lap, UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) candidate Ismail Sabri Yaakob is believed to be leading the pack, reported Malaysiakini.
However, many Malaysians do not seem particularly pleased with his potential appointment. One Kyle Mohd started an online petition on Aug.18 to voice the opposition.
The petition titled, "We don't want Ismail Sabri Yaakob to be prime minister (of) Malaysia", has garnered over 264,000 signatures in one day, and the numbers are still increasing.
Apart from highlighting his alleged incompetence in handling the Covid-19 pandemic under the Muhyiddin administration, the petition also included Sabri's well-documented remarks of an alleged racial nature over the years.
Malaysia's Covid-19 infections continue to soar despite multiple Movement Control Orders previously implemented by Sabri when he was still Minister of Defence.
Sabri to Malays in 2015: boycott Chinese businesses
In February 2015, Sabri reportedly told Malays to leverage on their numbers as the majority of Malaysian consumers and boycott Chinese businesses, saying that it will force them to reduce the prices of their goods, as per Astro Awani.
Despite public backlash, he refused to apologise over his Facebook post, and merely replied that his statement were targeted at "unscrupulous merchants", reported Malay Mail.
He added that it was a "coincidence" that majority of them belonged to the Chinese ethnicity.
Though Sabri deleted his Facebook post subsequently, the police launched an investigation into the issue under the Sedition Act, reported theSundaily.
Malay-only digital mall
The politician found himself embroiled in controversy again in August 2015, following his proposal to establish a digital mall "especially for Malay businessmen", reported Astro Awani.
Sabri reportedly said, "Although the traders are all Malays, I hope the non-Malay community will also come here and support this mall", as per Malay Mail.
MARA Corp Chairman, Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi, who was tasked with managing the operations of the mall, later admitted that the creation of the digital mall was a politically-motivated move and not a business-driven one, reported The Rakyat Post.
The initiative was meant to be replicated across other states in Malaysia, but failed due to poor sales.
In a bid to save any remaining grace of the mall, the management later offered non-Malay businesses to set up shop there, though it is unclear if there were any that took up that offer.
Allegedly ate turtle eggs, illegal under Wildlife Conservation Act
In November 2015, Sabri once again made headlines for the wrong reasons, this time for allegedly consuming turtle eggs at an event in Sabah, which is illegal, reported Malaysiakini.
Minister of Rural and Regional Development at the time, Sabri reportedly claimed that he was unaware of the law that prohibited consumption of turtle eggs.
Photos of empty turtle egg shells on his plate emerged after he previously denied eating turtle eggs due to "high cholesterol".
The former minister filed a RM10 million (S$3.2 million) lawsuit against Sabah-based newspaper Daily Express in March 2017 for publishing three articles regarding the incident, as per New Straits Times.
The lawsuit was settled amicably in July 2018.
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