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Enough optimistic announcements, go to the ground, group tells govt


Under the movement control order, people are prohibited from going more than 10km from their homes to buy essential items.

PETALING JAYA: Consumer rights umbrella body Fomca today urged politicians and policymakers to “go to the ground” to understand the plight of the people and address the situation during the Covid-19 crisis.

Its president Marimuthu Nadason said some of the government’s pronouncements did not reflect the reality on the ground.

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He cited for example the “continuous optimistic announcements” that there are more than enough face masks to go around.

“The reality is, even before the MCO (movement control order), for more than two months, in fact, face masks have simply not been available at local pharmacies or other shops,” he said in a statement.

Even after Putrajaya announced a reduction in prices, he said, masks were still not readily available.

He also spoke of the government’s assurances of sufficient food supply, saying the people “will tell a different story”.

Many supermarkets and mini markets have empty shelves with bread and eggs out of stock, he said. And if the public were to go beyond 10km looking for food, they risk getting into trouble with the police.

“Yet all we get are assurances that there is enough food.

“Full food shelves from supermarkets that the very rich go to are shown in the media.”

Even worse, he said, some retailers are reportedly taking advantage of the situation by raising prices.

Calling for more aggressive enforcement, he said one of the first measures that should have been announced along with the MCO was a hotline for consumers to air their grievances.

As it is, he said, consumer organisations themselves had been unable to act due to the MCO and the plight of consumers had been neglected.

“Unavailability of food and overpriced food are the real concerns of the people. Positive and optimistic announcements not reflective of the people’s reality are not useful.”

By going to the ground, he said, policymakers would be able to better understand the people’s reality and take appropriate measures to show that the government is listening.



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