EXPRESSING deep concern over recent incidents of economic sabotage, the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (Samenta) calls upon the government to institute an Economic Sabotage Act.

This legislation is deemed necessary to thwart activities by individuals and groups, including politicians, that inflict lasting harm on the nation’s economy.

According to its national president, Datuk William Ng, the proposal for such an act was initially introduced by the National Centre for Governance, Integrity, and Anti-Corruption in 2018.

Its objective was to tackle the abuse of government contracts and eliminate the ‘Ali Baba’ phenomenon.

However, despite initial momentum, the enactment of this act was sidelined following changes in government and the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ng further emphasises that besides addressing the illicit ‘resale’ of government contracts and import permits, the Economic Sabotage Act should target cartels monopolising government contracts and manipulating prices of essential goods.

This, he believes, would foster fairer competition, expand consumer choices, and alleviate the financial burdens on both businesses and Malaysian citizens.

“Given the rise of recent arson attacks and organised boycotts on private businesses, an Economic Sabotage Act should also criminalise acts by individuals and organisations who promotes, encourages or carry on any act of sabotage on businesses.

“The Act should carry severe custodial penalties to commensurate with the long term repercussion of such acts to our economy and the livelihood of Malaysians,” he said in a statement today.

Notably, Ng points out a critical gap in existing laws, which fail to penalise organised boycotts or the encouragement thereof.

This legal void, he contends, enables offenders, including politicians, to act with impunity, while businesses struggle, employees lose their jobs and livelihoods, and the country’s reputation as a trading nation and investment destination takes a severe beating.

“This must not be allowed to continue,” Ng concluded.