Ensure essential supply chains run smoothly or risk chaos, Pakatan tells Putrajaya

Pakatan Harapan said food security is the biggest challenge facing many Malaysian households, especially those whose incomes are affected after the movement control order (MCO) was enforced. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Pakatan Harapan said food security is the biggest challenge facing many Malaysian households, especially those whose incomes are affected after the movement control order (MCO) was enforced. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) today called on Putrajaya to ensure the supply chains for several sectors run smoothly, especially for food and agriculture, warning instead of possible chaos if the matter is not addressed.

In a statement today, the PH Secretariat listed several sectors which the government must allow operating, to ensure supply of essential medical equipment for the medical fraternity battling Covid-19.

“We do not want to see Malaysians in hunger during the spread of Covid-19. Food riots are something which have never been experienced in our country. However, this can happen if we do not maintain an open supply chain and if we do not have a clear idea on maintaining agricultural output.

“The PH Secretariat calls on the government to take immediate steps to resolve the supply chain disruption in the following areas: production of food, vegetables and agriculture, and manufacture of medical gloves for local and worldwide markets.

“The five medical supplies to be prioritised at this time are; face mask, test kits, sanitiser, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ventilator, online / e-commerce platform and logistics,” it said.

The statement was undersigned by former Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution (PKR), former Agriculture and Agro-based Industry minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayob (Parti Amanah Negara) and  former International Trade and Industry deputy minister, Ong Kian Ming from DAP.

They added that food security is the biggest challenge facing many Malaysian households, especially those whose incomes are affected after the movement control order (MCO) was enforced.

They pointed out how farmers in Cameron Highlands threw away vegetables because of the inability, and refusal of supply truck operators to travel, to bring vegetables to other areas, due to restrictions.

“The same applies to fishermen too. They throw their fishes into the sea, because they cannot transport the fishes to the market in big cities,” the trio suggested, proposing for a “Guarantee Buy-Back Scheme” through the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) and the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) during the MCO period.

The scheme they said, is to ensure that market remain functioning, so that farmers can continue to plant for the next season, and for fishermen to continue going out to sea, as should they make losses now, they would cut back on cultivation for the next season, and the Malaysian food security will be affected when the market returns to normal.

Saifuddin, Ong and Salahuddin pointed out that the demand for all five essential medicinal production during this “war” period such as masks, test kits, sanitisers, PPEs and ventilators, will continue to grow during the epidemic, and therefore, called for an emergency relief approach.

In view of this, they asked the government to allow existing suppliers to expand their production capacity, including sourcing of materials and labour,and also directing some manufacturers in the non-critical sectors to change their factory functions to help produce these critical items.

“As we go into longer-term partial lockdown, it is important to realise that beyond basic food and medical essentials, Malaysians may need other products to keep life going. It is important that the Government looks into online e-commerce platforms in a holistic manner which includes looking at logistics, warehouse fulfilment, and call centres.

“The key enabler to solve these issues is to look at how to ensure that the logistics sectors are kept open and moving while the highest level of health compliance is observed,” they said.  

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