Monday, April 21, 2008

Cry Havoc! And Let Loose Some Half-Measures To Patch Our Food Supply Chain...

The Lah-ist government of Malaysia is in a state of sheer panic. Well masked behind a veil of Oxford woven civility for sure, but in panic they remain. Symptoms of this panic include laying bare a raft of half measures to patch up the holes in the country's food supply chain.

I suppose for them to panic is natural. I mean, as opposed to the 'shortages' of luxuries of the recent past such as salt, sugar and cooking oil in the local market, the government recently had to sort out the shortage of a staple - flour - and are now confronted with a 'worldwide supply crisis' of rice, THE staple.

Very much like English fooballers at a World Cup, the various cabinet members must be thoroughly sick of the complaints and worries being expressed by their Wives And Girlfriends (WAGs) on the rice shortage issue. For in the end, admit it, we Malaysians are a creative enough people to be able to live without salt (got soy sauce), sugar (got cinnamon and 'tebu') or (palm oil based) cooking oil (use less, more expensive brand like Mazola or just cook with Planta), but rice?

The last time we had a rice shortage in these parts was during the Japanese Occupation of the 1940's, and then our mummys and grandads had to survive on ubi kayu... UBI KAYU!

Enough already, I ramble too much, so what are my specific grouses about the government's current plans? Here we go again...
  1. The plan entails massive growing of padi so the country will be able to self-reliant on rice. Huh? Hello Mr PM, it takes 4-6 MONTHS for Padi to grow to maturity, how is this going to help a rice problem that is happening NOW! Look, I know its hard, but just FOOOCUUUSSS...
  2. There is talk of massive planting of padi and other key agricultural crops in Sarawak. Hah! So which tranche of rain-forest is the government planning to rape this time with this padi-planting scheme! The logging companies must be smacking their lips and starting up their padi-planting subsidiaries already...
  3. The government is planning to build warehouses and other facilities to stockpile food. Stockpile food? You can't even get sufficient rice supplies and you're talking about stockpiling? And we're talking about food like rice here, that eventually spoils with time? And what about pest control? And keeping the food fresh? Isn't this going to take up a lot of resources? So...
  4. Pak Lah announced that all this will take an RM 4 BILLION program to implement. RM 4 BILLION! Ala Pak Lah, please lah don't embarass UMNO members any more by using our mother's inability to buy rice as an excuse to make those close to you rich. It's your brother Ibrahim and son Kamal right that's in the food business?

Oops... sorry, but getting personal there... well we are talking about RICE here! When in truth, securing a good supply of rice for Malaysians, even in the current tight supply situation, is not THAT difficult. So, some ideas from my non-Oxford mind?

  1. I presented some ideas at the end of this posting of mine on how tweaking the subsidies system a little may help in terms of the pricing mechanism: http://thoughtsintangents.blogspot.com/2008/04/forget-about-cooking-oil-rice-rice-my.html
  2. Government could secure rice supplies from producing countries as a inter-government deal (G2G), perhaps as a swap with one of our exports, such as Palm Oil. The government can then channel the supply, or indeed perform the actual purchases via GLCs or government agencies and coops with retail businesses (such as Tescos, Pasaraya Peladang, etc). Hold one, I recall a former PM used this idea once before...
  3. The government should run a campaign to shift consumption away from rice dependency. This will be hard as the pressure on food supply is affecting all types of foods, though at different times, so the shift will be for Malaysians consider a dynamic diet with no single staple, partly driven by economics and availablity of food supply. Not pleasant, but a potential future reality to prepare for.

It is a tough new world Malaysians are facing, so we need leadership that can make tough choices and convince us to support these measures. So please lah Pak Lah and co, give us real solutions to real problems, not half-measures from half-understood situations... else step aside so someone more competent may lead us.

1 comment:

azlina said...

do you think pak lah is the person who cares to think!!!!. those ideas of his comes from his sanak saudara and menantu. if pak lah can come out with something briliant spontaneously.... i rasa everyone will become froze sekejap.

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