'Local rice shortage is no small matter', Naccol man tells Zahid

TAIPING: The shortage of local rice in the market is not a matter to be brushed off lightly, but it's a substantial concern that requires serious attention.

Naccol food cluster task force chairman Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal said his team had deployed Madani enforcement teams to 30 locations across the Peninsula, including renowned supermarkets, for the inspection of local rice, yet no significant findings were reported.

"This is not a small matter. This is a big issue. Based on several inspections that have been conducted, including today, with videos, I can assure you that local rice is not available in the market.

"All citizens are complaining because of the absence of rice, and I am very concerned about the response of the relevant ministry," he said after an iftar (breaking of fast) session with the media here last night.

His remarks came following Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was reported yesterday to have said that the issue of shortages of local rice supplies in the market is an isolated case as it only affects certain areas and not the entire country.

He said Naccol would assist the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry monitor the issue.

Commenting further, Syed Abu Hussin described the problem of rice shortages as being due to a lack of enforcement by the relevant authorities.

He also claimed that local rice sold by farmers underwent "skin changes" at the manufacturing level.

"Farmers have informed us that they sell padi to the government, but where does the local rice go?

"Claims of packaging changes from local to imported (rice) can be proven by going directly to the factories. We can check the amount of padi purchased, the amount of paddy milled, and the packaging– in what form.

"So when such matters are not investigated, we have no evidence, and I have no authority to do so."

Syed Abu Hussin also denied claims that he was just a place to vent anger by certain parties regarding the rice issue.

However, he would not mind and consider the actions he is taking now to help the people burdened by the rising cost of living.

In another development, he added that discussions to finalise the Madani white rice price ceiling would be held on March 20.

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