KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The government’s [email protected] programme selling discounted food products was met yesterday with disappointment from Sri Johor Public Housing residents who felt the scheme did not do enough to address their cost of living crisis.
The fair at the flats here was part of a larger scheme rolled out to offer chicken and eggs below their price ceilings, along with other essential items sold from trucks that would visit at regular intervals.
Some residents noted that the discounted selection was too small to effectively help them combat inflation while those such as Nagarajan S. Veloo, 63, pointed out that it was only temporary.
The former truck driver living with five others in one of the flats said that while the discounts would help for now, prices have already risen for several months and were expected to keep rising for the foreseeable future.
“So far, we’ve been cutting down on some necessities like snacks and such but the prices of basic items keep going up.
“If this programme is just for six months, it definitely isn’t long enough. I mean, how long will inflation last? And we don’t know if prices will stabilise,” Nagarajan told Malay Mail.
The scheme also appeared to suffer a communication issue as some residents were either unaware of its existence while others thought it was an event for food items to be given away.
Instead, they discovered coupons that entitled them to purchase food items for less, such as RM3 off for a whole chicken valued at RM15 and a tray of 10 eggs for 50 sen less.
“We thought it was free,” said Siti Hasmah,72, a former cleaner at the Prime Minister’s Office.
She expressed doubt over the price of the chicken and eggs, noting that both were already subsidised. Siti also tutted at the cooking oil on sale for effectively the same price as elsewhere, which she said was already too much.
Still, she said the minor discounts were appreciated, as was the government’s attempt to help.
“So, I was thinking that since the government said they’re having a hard time financially, I’m willing to give them money back,” she said with a laugh.
Siti said she and her family have been struggling since 2019 due to the country’s political instability and said things worsened during the pandemic.
Her family was still making ends meet but cutbacks have been necessary.
At the same fair, retiree Chan Yuet Mui, 72, came and left with but a single chicken.
“They (organisers) just knocked on our doors earlier to tell us about this event, giving us the coupons. So, we decided to come down and take a look,” said Chan who lived alone with her husband.
She pointed out that the only items on discount were chicken and eggs, while others such as vegetables were not.
Chee said she had also wanted to purchase some eggs, but realised that they cost more at the fair than the places she usually shopped.
“It’s a good thing they parked right by my block. If it’s at a mall, I wouldn’t go even if it’s free,” she said.
Another resident, Kamaluddin Rahimi, said he hoped to see more discounted items, particularly vegetables at the fair.
The part-time Grab driver whose parents were living with his family said they have been cutting down on meat consumption due to rising prices.
“I think vegetable prices will also rise soon, so, in the end I don’t know what we will eat,” he said with a sigh.
The [email protected] programme aimed to give more than 11,000 residents the opportunity to buy chicken and eggs at a discount.
Around 1,707 coupons were distributed.
At the event, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the average price of chicken nationwide was RM9.16 and the government would strictly enforce the price ceiling.
“The aim is to make sure the people get the benefits of these fixed prices,” he told reporters when met.