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RM500m spent but prices continue to soar: DAP

Published on: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Despite more than RM500 million spent for the purpose of price uniformity in both Sabah and Sarawak, the prices of goods in both States continue to soar even in the so-called budget sundry shops, Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M).

Sabah Democratic Action Party (DAP) Organising Secretary Junz Wong said as reported by Sabah Umno Youth Chief Yamani Hafez Musa, some of the goods sold in the subsidised KR1M are actually more expensive than the usual prices sold in supermarkets.

"We have always known this but we never thought it would be supported by Umno Youth who did the survey. I think that is very good.

"But if indeed the prices of goods in KR1M stores are more expensive, it is actually equivalent to cheating Sabahans," he said.

Wong added that the Federal government had made several promises to Sabahans and Sarawakians to bring down the prices through a series of price uniformity programmes under the National Budget 2012, 2013 and 2014.

These include the opening of 57 KR1M stores under the National Budget 2012 costing RM87million.

"That doesn't include the RM279million for the price uniformity programme in 2012 to ensure cheaper goods in East Malaysia. In 2013, the government had planned to give RM386 million to bring down the prices of Sabah and Sarawak including subsidising KR1M stores.

"In 2014, the government allocated RM331million to reduce the cost of transportation.

Recently, the Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad said the prices in these stores (KR1M) are lower by 40 or 50 sen.

"But the shocking reality is that, despite subsiding RM1.53 million to each store, the prices of goods are still more expensive," he told press conference Tuesday.

Wong said his team made a random survey on prices of goods in KR1M and compared them to prices in Giant Hypermarket and found that there are many items in KR1M sold at higher prices compared to other supermarkets.

"For example, Maggi is sold at RM3.88 in Giant but sold at RM4.19 in KR1M.

"The Tiger biscuit is also sold at higher price RM3.15 compared to Giant's RM2.89 while the 2kg Knife cooking oil is sold at the same price of RM7.20," he said.

He said although many other items sold in KR1M are cheaper it is not correct for the Government to say all the prices are cheaper.

Wong said he is supporting the statement by Hafez that it is unfair to Malaysians and demanded full accountability from the Federal Ministers for using all the money.

"As for the RM331million set aside to reduce the cost of transportation, until today, Sabah still has not seen lower transportation cost.

"Basically the players, the shipping agents, they haven't made any reduction in prices, we have not seen any rebates or anything.

"So we don't really know where the money had been spent. How have they spent this amount of money? We should have seen some impact by now," he said.

He said DAP would continue to monitor the situation and follow it up at the parliamentary and State assembly level.

Wong also commented on the recent case of alleged cheating on the part of proselytisers who offered rural folk in Pitas cash money in return for their conversion to other religion.

"We wonder what is the motive to convert them? What is the intention behind this?

"This is a total violation of our constitutional rights. Everybody is free to practise their religion.

"If there is legitimate effort to convince people to convert, then maybe it's fair.

"But this is misleading, with money involved in it. This shouldn't be. It's planned and they didn't even tell the kampong folk what is happening," he said.

Wong urged the police to investigate the matter thoroughly to ensure Malaysians that the culprits in this movement would not get away.

"Nobody should be tricked into converting. This is serious and the police should prioritise this case because recently, in Malaysia, religious issue has become very worrying," he said.

He also advised those behind the movement to cease their activities.

"These people who were tricked into converting still go to church.

By giving them RM100, you cannot convert them because faith is something you believe in, something very sacred. No amount of money would be able to change that," he said.

Meanwhile, Junz said Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) should improve on their services or reduce the electricity tariff.

"Until today, they still could not find the cause of the power interruption last Friday.

So we want to give them some suggestions.

There are some people who are in this business who said that in order to minimise equipment failure, regular maintenance is important.

"There are preventive and scheduled maintenance, corrective maintenance and breakdown maintenance.

They think the fault was because SESB did not do their maintenance.

We don't know because they still could not find the cause of the failure," said Junz.

According to his sources, Wong said the recent blackout was due to a system or network failure and the protective network was not acting accordingly and resulted in a general blackout.