MP demands details of rice subsidy abuse

ong-kian-ming bernas

Ong Kian Ming asks whether the subsidy benefited Bernas directly

(Free Malaysia Today) – Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming has told the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries to release details of the abuse of a rice subsidy that has prompted its withdrawal.

In a statement today, Ong noted that the ministry’s recent announcement of the withdrawal of the subsidy for ST15 (Super Tempatan 15% broken rice) had been foreshadowed in the budget estimates, in which rice subsidies, which amounted to RM528 million in 2015, were reduced to zero in 2016.

He also noted that the ministry said the subsidy programme had been abolished because there were “too many leakages” in various ways, including the purchase of rice by non-Malaysians and restaurant owners.

However, Ong indicated that too many questions remained unanswered.

“Since this subsidy was introduced in 2008,” he said, “an estimated RM3.4 billion has been spent. If there were leakages in this subsidy, how much of this subsidy was wasted? How much did this subsidy benefit restaurant owners who would gain additional profit from using this subsidised low grade rice? How much of this subsidy went to unscrupulous middlemen who bought ST15 subsidised rice and repackaged them to set it at a higher grade and sell it a higher price?”