Cost of living: Appoint Salahuddin's replacement quickly - Ex ministers

19 Sep 2023 10:16am
The absence of the KPDN Minister is also feared to hinder Naccol's efforts to complete the agreed agenda in the council meeting Bernama FILE PIX
The absence of the KPDN Minister is also feared to hinder Naccol's efforts to complete the agreed agenda in the council meeting Bernama FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - The absence of the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDN) minister who manages the National Action Council on Cost of Living (Naccol) needs to be rectified immediately to help the council's efforts in dealing with overall increase in the price of essential goods.

Former KPDN Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said although the Naccol meeting is chaired by the Prime Minister, the agenda of the meeting and the implementation of the initiatives agreed in the meeting still need to be handled by the KPDN Minister as a mediator of the council's secretariat committee.

Following that, he said, the absence of a full-time KPDN Minister was feared to hinder the focus and adjustment of the agenda to contain the increase in the cost of living planned by Naccol across ministries along with seven other ministry clusters.

The seven ministry clusters in Naccol are Housing, Education, Transport, Utilities, Health, Food and e-Commerce.

"My personal experience, Naccol meetings are usually held at least two to four times a year with the Prime Minister, ministers, Chief Secretary of State, Bank Negara Governor, Attorney-General, academic figures, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), associations and industry representatives.

"However, the formulation of a strategy in realising the agreed agenda in the Naccol meeting requires the commitment of a KPDN Minister who can communicate and mediate effectively with the senior officials involved in the ministry on a full-time basis.

"I understand that the Prime Minister may face constraints to appoint a new KPDN Minister immediately. However, I feel that the sooner a minister is appointed to the portfolio of the critical ministry, Naccol will be more organised," the Public Works Minister to Sinar Premium.

He said this to comment on whether the government, through KPDN and Naccol, already had a solution to the issue of rising prices of goods that had been increasingly burdening the people recently, especially involving various essential food items such as rice, onions and chillies.

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Following the passing of former Pulai Member of Parliament, the late Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub on July 23, the vacancy had yet to be filled with.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Duties) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali is currently overseeing the ministry.

Among the first agenda implemented by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as soon as he was appointed to the position was to hold a special meeting of Naccol to prioritise the focus on curbing the increase in the cost of living for the people in November last year.

Elaborating on his experience of managing Naccol during the previous government, Alexander also suggested that Naccol hold meetings more frequently every year in addition to its functions in better coordination whenever the issue of rising goods prices arises.

Another former KPDN Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek also agreed that the appointment of the KPDN Minister should be filled immediately and not be delayed.

He said the appointment of a new KPDN Minister would ensure that Naccol's functions were strengthened thus signaling to every ministry involved that there was a minister who would monitor their performance while carrying out the council's agenda.

"Most importantly, the existence of Naccol, which is monitored by a full-time KPDN Minister, will ensure that the enforcement aspect of the ministry in curbing the issue of profiteering on the price of goods and the activity of hiding stocks of basic food resources can be improved optimally.

"For me, the issue of law enforcement against traders or wholesalers who try to make excessive profits is also very important because sometimes there are parties who take advantage of the constraints faced by the ministry and the government at the moment," he said.

At the same time, the former member of Umno Supreme Council member (MKT) also urged the new KPDN Minister and Naccol to go to every corner of the rural areas including Sabah and Sarawak to get a true picture of the current rate of increase in the price of goods.

"Don't just monitor the price of goods in the Klang Valley, the problem of rising prices of goods actually occurs more in rural areas due to weak law enforcement aspects," he added.

In the meantime, the former Agriculture and Agro-based Industry deputy minister during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government Sim Tze Tzin admitted that Anwar faced a big challenge to replace the new KPDN Minister who was able to compete with Salahuddin's leadership qualities.

He said this was because Salahuddin displayed excellent performance while steering the ministry, making Rahmah's initiative welcomed by the people up until today.

"It was only after Salahuddin passed away that we heard various issues of lack of basic food products arose.

"Even though a minister was appointed to fill the position vacated by Salahuddin, I see that the KPDN needs a committed minister who can serve full-time because that portfolio is very critical to the well-being of the people," he said.