Umno-owned dailyUtusan Malaysia today trained its cross-hairs on Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (ACCCIM) president William Cheng (left) for speaking out against the government-backed no-frills shop Kedai 1Malaysia.
In his 'Cuit' column today, Utusan senior editor Zaini Hassan asked if Cheng should not be considered an "ultra Chinese", for saying that Kedai 1Malaysia had an unfair advantage over petty traders and sundry shop owners represented by ACCCIM.
In saying so, Zaini juxtaposed the Lion Group chairperson's views with that of Malay rights group Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali, who said Malay small traders were struggling to make ends meet because of profiteering by wholesalers.
"This is the view of Ibrahim Ali, an ultra Malay...?" he asked, rhetorically.
According to Zaini, the traders Cheng was trying to protect were responsible for high prices, and at times hoarded goods to drive prices up.
"My relative, who runs a sundry shop... once lamented that wholesalers made him pay a higher price compared with other shop owners of the same race as the wholesalers.
"So, Malay sundry shop owners can only reap a small profit, or no profit at all to compete with the competition (who buy goods at a lower wholesale price).
"Does Cheng realise this?" Zaini asked.
The same position was taken by Ibrahim (right), the Independent Pasir Mas MP, whose views on this matter were reproduced in full by the editor in his column.
"Food stall owners have to sell at RM5, hardly making RM1 in profit... selling 100 packs will get them RM100 in profit.
"An assistant would need to be paid at least RM30, petrol at least RM20, leaving RM50 as net profit or RM1,500 a month.
"Set aside RM700 to pay for a van, RM500 for house rent or home loan, RM100 for utilities and you're left with RM200. Is that enough to pay for the children's schooling?" Ibrahim asked.
'Cheng threatening the government'
The MP, whose views were also reported in a news article in the following pages, further accused Cheng of "threatening the government" as well.
This was after the tycoon announced that the Lion Group was mulling moving its steel manufacturing operations to Indonesia.
The decision appears to be independent of the Kedai 1Malaysia grouse, but Cheng said the move was likely if Putrajaya continued to allow unfair competition from Asian rivals.
"The government must put national interests before that of one or two greedy corporate figures.
"(Blackberry smart phone makers and) RIM were recently reported to had decided on making Malaysia the investment destination, one goes more will come... but the government must be stern against such threats," Ibrahim is quoted as saying.