'No need to ban foreigners from buying local rice'- Mat Sabu
PUTRAJAYA - Foreigners residing in Malaysia should be allowed to continue purchasing rice supplies, including local rice, based on humanitarian grounds.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said these individuals are in the country to work in various sectors, including low-skilled jobs.
"Some work in the construction sector, agriculture, and even security. In my view, it's a matter of humanity; they need food," he said.
He said this in response to the call by Umno youth chief Dr Muhammad Akmal Saleh for the government to restrict the sale of local rice to only Malaysian citizens.
Mohamad said it was best to avoid hasty decisions in the current situation.
"Don't rush, because if our foreign workers cannot purchase affordable rice for their meals, we will too be impacted by that," he said.
In related development, Mohamad added that the ministry will hold meetings with stakeholders regarding the details of the standard operating procedures (SOP) for granting bulk licences to restaurant operators, allowing them to purchase imported white rice (BPI) at wholesale prices.
"The Padi and Rice Supervisory Office will directly engage and conduct dialogues with them so that they can understand the needs of restaurant operators and others.
"They will be offered wholesale prices to obtain BPI so that they do not rely solely on local rice for food sales in restaurants," he said.
The Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) requested on Monday that the government promptly clarify the SOP for bulk licences that can be issued to restaurant operators, as difficulties in obtaining local white rice (BPT) have forced most of them to rely entirely on BPI.
Presma president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said that this is the first time the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry has introduced such an initiative to restaurant operators, and his organisation is ready to apply for the offered licences to ensure the continuity of their business.