KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — A federal lawmaker has demanded to see the accounting for over RM140 million spent to standardise and subsidise prices in Sabah after the Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia (KR1M) there were found to charge more than unassisted outlets.
Calling the discovery “shocking”, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua noted that this arose despite KR1M outlets in the state being allocated RM1.53 million each under Budget 2013 — RM1.06 million more than similar stores in peninsular Malaysia.
“The above does not yet include a separate RM279 million budget for a ‘price standardisation programme’ to ensure cheaper goods in East Malaysia, out of which approximately RM100 million is allocated for Sabah,” Pua said in a statement today.
The DAP national publicity secretary also pointed to a previous claim made by Sabah Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun in November that the KR1M stores would be “at least 40 to 50 per cent” cheaper than regular, unassisted stores in the state.
He added that Azizah had told consumers that any product bearing the 1 Malaysia logo was cheaper to allow “ordinary people” could afford to buy the things they normally complained were expensive.
“The shocking reality now is that despite subsiding RM1.53 million to open each store, RM279 million of price subsidies for East Malaysia, Umno members themselves discovered that the goods sold in KR1M were actually more expensive that other shops which received no subsidies, incentives or support from the government?” Pua said.
The lawmaker then demanded the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry clarify the price discrepancy despite the millions of ringgit in support, asking if the entirety of the sum was given to Mydin Holdings that operates the KR1M chain.
He also told the ministry to enumerate the distribution of the RM279 million “price standardisation” scheme to show how it was implemented in the two Borneo states.
“Most importantly, Datuk Seri Hasan Malek must explain why, despite the massive subsidies, Barisan Nasional has once again failed to fulfil its promise of substantially cheaper goods to the people,” Pua continued.
Yesterday, Sabah Daily Express reported state Umno Youth chief Hafez Yamani Musa as saying that KR1M prices were discovered to be higher than regular stores in the state.
The local Umno Youth chapter made the startling find when it was compiling retail prices through a random survey, in preparation for the formation of a Consumer Squad in the state.
“But this is just the result of a preliminary survey. We will do a state-wide survey and later come out with a solid statement on the matter,” Hafez was quoted as saying by the news portal.
KR1M stores are part of a subsidised chain operated by Mydin, and was first launched in 2011 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a bid to address growing complaints of rising cost of living then.
The stores sell generic goods under the “1 Malaysia” brand that include food staples as well as consumables such as diapers at prices that are touted as cheaper than brand-name alternatives.
Sabah was promised a total of 25 KR1M outlets last year, with the Inanam and Tuaran outlets being the first two in the state.