PETALING JAYA - Racism should be declared illegal and not allowed to divide the nation, says banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak.
The younger brother of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wants racism to be made illegal as he fears for the future of Malaysia.
Touching on the Low Yat Plaza brawl last Saturday and Sunday, Nazir, who is CIMB Group chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's brother, wrote on his Instagram account:
"When a silly handphone theft results in racial brawls, I fear for their future. Let's define and make racism illegal to bring us closer."
Nazir also attached a photograph of children of various races wearing their traditional costumes.
The brawl, which saw seven people hurt, started from an alleged theft of a handphone which later escalated into a riot by about 100 people near the Low Yat Plaza on Sunday.
A 22-year-old unemployed youth has been charged with the theft while 30 others have been detained to assist in investigations.
Former minister and Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz said Malaysians should not allow racial issues to divide the nation.
Rafidah said: "I am so saddened by the mob violence at Low Yat. Why must things be looked at from the racial perspective? Malay customer and Chinese vendor etc," she posted on Facebook.
"I have gone through that sad dark period in our nation's socio-economic history triggered by the May 13, 1969 riots.
"It is not something to be proud of. It is something from which we need to learn valuable lessons.
"One important lesson is that we must let our minds be free of prejudice, bias and parochial tendencies, and see things only as they are with no negative embellishments.
"Do not allow short fuses to ignite racial tensions and view everything purely from the racial perspective.
"Act rationally (and) not (be) driven by mob and herd mentality," she said.
Tourism Malaysia chairman Wee Choo Keong said: "Seriously, what is the point of the country and its partners in the private sector spending millions, if not billions of ringgit, to promote the country throughout the world when the people we are trying to attract are scared of coming here because of racial tension?"
This is what he said in his blog (weechookeong.com) posting.
Lamenting the damage done to the tourism industry after the recent Low Yat riots, he drew comparison to other riots in South-East Asia, including the 2013-2014 Thai political crisis and the May 1998 riots in Indonesia.
"One definite effect they all have - turning away tourists, as well as affecting the decisions of potential foreign investors. Just imagine the social and economic costs of such incidents to those countries," he posted.
Wee, a former Bukit Bintang MP, said that he could not imagine such an incident occurring there when he was still in office, as it was one of the "country's tourism jewels".
"An incident like the one in Low Yat Plaza, misleadingly viewed as a racial riot by gullible netizens and the public, is a major turn-off for tourists," he posted.