A DUMBFOUNDED veteran journalist and blogger Datuk A. Kadir Jasin has demanded a straightforward answer from the unity government as to who is actually telling the truth: (i) the commoners who claim that the price of imported rice has gone up while the local variety faces supply shortage or (ii) the authorities who insist that everything is under control.
This comes on the backdrop of BERNAS having recently given assurance that it has sufficient supply of white rice and further claiming that it has distributed 630,000 metric tonnes of rice from January to August this year which itself marks a 38% monthly average increase over the past five years.
It is also worth re-calling that during the Pelangai state assembly by-election campaign, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has himself announced an additional subsidy of almost RM400 mil to buy rice for public use such as police camps, military camps and hostels.
“Whatever the truth is, the empty talk, political propaganda and vote buying using rice must stop. Sufficiency and affordability of food is a very strategic humanitarian issue and not a political candy,” the former Bersatu supreme council member hit out in a recent Facebook post.
“It is good to seek guidance from the suffering and rebellion of the common people of various countries and eras as a result of the government failing to guarantee food sufficiency.”
Taking a leaf from history, Kadir reminded the power that be of how the great Roman Empire began to decline in the 4th and 5th centuries AD when it experienced bad weather and agricultural failure.
“This caused the military and economic strength of Rome to fall,” he shared. “In the 18th century, it was told how the King of France and the aristocrats poked fun at the suffering and anger of the common people.
“When told the common people had no bread to eat, the then Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, is said to have replied, let them eat cake. This prompted the common people to rebel. On June 20, 1792 they stormed the palace and captured Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI.
“When the final decision was made on Jan 19, 1793, Louis was sentenced to death by 380 to 310. He was beheaded in the Place de la Révolution (Revolution Square) on Jan 21, 1793. Nine months later, Antoinette served the same sentence. Thus ended the monarchy in France.”
As a solution, Kadir suggested that Malaysia emulates modern Japan which boasts rice sufficiency level of 99% even though its land size is only slightly bigger than Malaysia while its population size is four times bigger.
“Even Indonesia which has a large population has achieved 90% rice sufficiency compared to Malaysia which is only between 65% and 70%. This is a long-term failure of our food security policy,” added the former editor-in-chief of the New Straits Times. – Oct 4, 2023
Main pic credit: Buletin Mutiara