Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has finally responded to the debate surrounding his fashion style, although he was not donning a thousand ringgit Burberry shirt this time.
At a Barisan Nasional convention in Setia Alam yesterday, the 62-year-old joked that Malaysians did not care about his fashion sense when he was defense minister, but they do now that he is the PM.
“People used to like the shirts I wear (on TV), but now when I am prime minister, they count how much it costs,” he said while reflecting on how one of his first responsibilities as prime minister was to address the still-raging Covid-19 outbreak and its effects on the economy.
When he was defense minister, Ismail would don batik shirts almost daily during his live press conferences, which he credited to his son-in-law, Jovian Mandagie, a local fashion designer.
However, Ismail has since upgraded his fashion sense.
Thanks to some highly observant Malaysians on the internet, we found out that, on two occasions, he was seen wearing expensive Burberry shirts. The price tag for both shirts together is a hefty RM12,400 (US$2,785).
It seems like the rising cost of living has not had any impact on the premier’s fashion sense.
In May, he was spotted wearing a RM 5,500 Burberry shirt during a casual meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Tokyo, Japan.
Last month, Ismail attended an event while wearing another Burberry shirt, which cost RM6,900.
Source: Ismail Sabri Yaakob Facebook & Burberry
Fahmi Fadzil, a member of parliament from Lembah Pantai in Kuala Lumpur, said at the time that the prime minister’s love of fancy clothing revealed a disconnect with the people who were trying to make ends meet as a result of increased living expenses.
Due to growing inflation, which translates to rising food prices and living expenses, Malaysia is currently going through one of its most difficult economic periods in modern history.
Since those in the middle and lower income classes are usually the ones most affected by economic downturns, is it any surprise that politicians wearing expensive high-end brands would earn the ire of the taxpayers who pay their salaries?