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Would Datuk Shafie Apdal resign as Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer affairs if his claim of adequate flour supply shortage is untrue and there are no roti canai in Indian restaurants next week?

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Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng

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(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Would Datuk Shafie Apdal resign as Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs if his claims of adequate flour supply shortage is untrue and there are no roti canai in Indian restaurants next week? Malaysian consumers are sick tired and angry that Malaysia continues to face shortage of basic commodities which are not faced by our neighbouring countries. First it is cooking oil, now it is flour what right has the government to claim good governance if it can not supply basic foodstuffs to the people.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners' Association president Datuk Ramalingam Pillai said yesterday there would be no roti canai in Indian restaurants from next week as the restaurants have run out of flour and are finding it hard to secure further supply at reasonable prices. Ramalingam said wholesalers were charging between RM 5 and RM 15 (15-45%) more than the price-controlled rate of RM 33.60 for the 25kg bag of flour and that the flour shortage was more acute in small towns.

This flour shortage has hit consumers since the cooking oil shortage was reported in Kedah, Pahang, Melaka, Penang, Kelantan and Klang Valley. The cooking oil shortage has caused losses to food businesses that can not do business without sufficient cooking oil and inconvenienced consumers with loss of time and money searching for cooking oil.

So severe was the shortage that since last week rationing of cooking oil was imposed as panic-buying triggered by rumours of price hikes stripped supplies from supermarket shelves. Rationing is ridiculous for a country like Malaysia which is the largest producer and exporter in the world with 14.4 million tonnes of palm oil exported in 2006, just over 50 per cent of the global trade in oils and fats.

Such failure by the government to deliver basic commodities is inexcusable when the government had already imposed a Cooking Oil Subsidy Scheme (COSS) of RM 855 million from oil palm planters to stabilize the price and ensure the adequate supply of cooking oil to consumers. Why did the government not direct increased production earlier and only the extra 70,000 tonnes of cooking oil now to ease the severe shortage?

Clearly Shafie has shown himself to be ineffective and responsible for the cooking oil shortage and if it is true that there would be no roti canai next week due to shortage of flour, he might as well honourably resign.
 

(08/01/2008)


* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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