PETALING JAYA - Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has expressed regret that his recent comments on Chinese traders had stirred racial sentiment and led to uneasiness.
"It was never my intention to cause tension and racial polarisation. My remarks were only directed at traders who continued to refuse to bring down the prices of goods regardless of their race.
"My comments went viral and were misinterpreted. I regret that my remarks have caused uneasiness," the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister said in a statement.
MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said he respected the decision of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister that there was a need for closure to the issue.
"As my colleague, Datuk Seri Ismail has offically issued a statenent of regret and as a member of the Cabinet, I take note of his statement of regret and hope that this matter is put to rest and we shall move on."
The Transport Minister also said that he had made clear the party's stand at the Cabinet meeting and Ismail Sabri was instructed to issue a statement to take responsibility for his controversial Facebook post.
Ismail Sabri had come under fire for his Facebook posting urging Malays to boycott Chinese traders.
The issue was discussed at length at the weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Wednesday, Ismail Sabri said.
"The Cabinet agreed that the matter must be stopped immediately. Barisan Nasional will continue to defend and protect the interests of all races. The Prime Minister wants all parties to concentrate on efforts to instil the spirit of national unity," he added.
Earlier, there was confusion over a statement issued by Ismail Sabri which was purportedly a joint statement with Liow.
Liow then denied making any such statement with Ismail Sabri.
"I have not had any calls or discussions with DS Ismail Sabri today, so how a joint statement was produced and circulated is puzzling," Liow tweeted.
He questioned how a joint statement could be issued without his knowledge.
His tweet was in response to a purported "joint statement" which carried his name and designation and Ismail Sabri's, calling on Malaysians, regardless of race, to unite and use their power as consumers to encourage traders to reduce prices of goods in line with the decline in oil prices.