Mat Sabu opposes banning foreigners from buying local rice

Ravin Palanisamy

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu has rejected a Malacca executive councillor’s suggestion to ban foreigners from purchasing local rice. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 18, 2023.

PUTRAJAYA has rejected a Malacca executive councillor’s suggestion to ban foreigners from purchasing local rice. 

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu, better known as Mat Sabu, said foreigners must eat too and they also contribute to the country’s development. 

“There is no decision on this proposal yet. Because foreigners have to eat too. 

“Do not forget that their work and services here also contribute to the development of our country,” the Kota Raja lawmaker said in his speech during a special parliament session on the 12th Malaysia Plan mid-term review. 

Mat Sabu was responding to a question posed by Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (Machang-Perikatan Nasional) on whether the government would consider the suggestion. 

Last week, Malacca Rural Development, Agriculture and Food Security Committee chairman Akmal Saleh suggested that the government restrict the sale of locally produced rice to only Malaysians.

In view of the shortage of local white rice, Akmal, who is also the Umno Youth chief, said such a policy was necessary, given the subsidisation of rice by the government.  

“So, when there is a drop in supply in the market, locals should be given priority over foreigners (to purchase local rice).  

“If the ministry cannot allow this throughout Malaysia, it can at least implement it in Malacca,” Akmal had posted on Facebook. 

Several groups lambasted Akmal for his proposal, saying there should not be any discrimination when it comes to basic necessities. 

During his speech in Dewan Rakyat, Mat Sabu said his ministry had found no evidence of local rice being repacked and disguised as imported by industry players. 

The minister said an investigation had been launched following allegations that unscrupulous business operators had switched the labels on local rice so they could be sold at much higher prices. 

“We have launched an operation to ensure that rules are followed by each and every level of the rice supply chain. 

“The operation includes inspections on rice factories and wholesalers. 

“However, from this investigation, the ministry did not find any solid evidence to prove the allegation,” he said. – September 18, 2023.

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