Dr Akmal: Champion of Malays or political strategist?

Dr Akmal and the KK Mart socks issue: Evaluating responses and reactions

29 Mar 2024 12:29pm
Dr Akmal (left) - FILE PIX
Dr Akmal (left) - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - Umno Youth Chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh has joined the ranks of the party’s former leaders with his staunch stance on the recent socks issue.

The matter gained traction on social media after images of socks bearing the word 'Allah' circulated online on March 13, provoking outrage among Malaysian Muslims.

In response, the 24-hour convenience store chain issued a formal apology on its social media platforms and promptly removed the product from its shelves.

KK Mart Group's founder and executive chairman Datuk Seri Dr KK Chai publicly apologised for the incident, clarifying that the socks were a consignment product from its vendor, Xin Jian Chang Sdn Bhd in Batu Pahat, Johor.

Subsequently, legal action was taken against the owners and their supplier for offending the religious sentiments of Muslims, leading to widespread condemnation and calls for boycotts against KK Mart.

Dr Akmal Saleh’s action

Despite the chain's apology, Dr Akmal has continued to publicly campaign for a nationwide boycott of KK Mart.

He insists his stance reflects a unified Umno Youth, emphasising their priority of upholding Islamic principles.

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He urged Umno Youth to file police reports regarding the issue, stressing that his actions are collective, not personal.

Alongside warnings from three Cabinet ministers, Umno President Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi urged caution in handling the sensitive issue.

On Zahid's advice, Akmal reaffirmed his commitment to addressing concerns, stressing Umno Youth's dedication to defending Islam and Malay rights.

DAP's reaction

DAP disagreed with Dr Akmal's call to boycott KK Supermart, urging politicians to focus on building bridges rather than escalating tensions.

In response, Dr Akmal reiterated his determination, urging Muslim unity in boycotting the convenience store.

Dr Akmal also advised DAP that unity among component parties was when one does not touch on the sensitivity of Muslims and Islam.

He reiterated that he would not move even an inch on that matter.

KJ's advice

Former Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin advised Akmal to refrain from further slamming KK Mart, urging him to allow authorities to address the matter.

Khairy said it was time to leave it to Muslim patrons to decide whether a boycott was needed or not.

He further acknowledged that such an issue was serious and sensitive and that an excessive reaction toward the incident would only affect the good relations among Malaysians.

Death threat

The saga continued when Dr Akmal filed a police report following death threats he received after taking a stand on the recent KK-Mart issue.

He claimed that an individual contacted him, expressing concern over death threats, warning that he would be shot dead if he continued to speak out about the issue.

Police eventually detained the suspect.

Anwar's reaction

Reacting to the controversy, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stressed the importance of adhering to legal procedures.

“My stance is clear. There are reports, lines were crossed, and there must be action taken. But after following the law, we move on,” he said.

Anwar acknowledged instances where boundaries might have been crossed in the issue and emphasised the necessity of following legal protocols before proceeding further.

The KK Mart controversy has raised concerns about potential tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, prompting a debate about Dr Akmal's motivations. Is he seen as a 'Malay hero' or a political mastermind?

To this, a political analyst and senior lecturer from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman offered insight, suggesting that Umno's role is to champion Malay sentiments.

"In the current climate, with Umno needing support, Dr Akmal's actions align with the party's ethos.

"Similar advocacy for community rights is common across political parties," Afi Rozhesry told Sinar Daily when contacted.

The analyst also highlighted that Dr Akmal's bold stance on the socks issue likely resonated with the Malay community, perceiving it as a proactive approach.

"However, it's essential to denounce any retaliatory actions, such as the recent petrol bomb attack on a KK Super Mart outlet in Bidor," he said.

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