The DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today (27.10.68) issued the following statement:
The Federal Fish Marketing Scheme of FAMA has caused grave concern and disquiet among fish traders and fishermen.
It appeared that the scheme was drawn up by some arm-chair academician in the FAMA who has no idea of the mechanics and reality of the fish trade, and the dislocation the scheme would cause to the industry.
The provision in the scheme concerning fish retailers is the most ridiculous and objectionable. If the scheme is implemented, tens of thousands of fish-sellers, including their families, will suffer hardships and lose their means of livelihood.
Clause 10 of the FAMA scheme provided that every fish-seller or retailer must possess a licence issued by the Fish Marketing Board, which will cost $10 a year. No one is allowed to sell fish without a licence, or he will be fined $500. FAMA authorities said there are 3,685 licenced fish retailers in the country at the moment.
Firstly, what assurance is there that all these 3,685 licensed retailers will be granted licences by the Fish Marketing Board, which will be renewed every year?
Secondly, what is to become of the tens of thousands of unlicensed fish retailers in the country? In the Selangor State alone, it is estimated that there are over 7,000 unlicensed retailers? Are they are all to lose their means of livelihood and become beggars? None of them will be able to afford the $500 fine for selling fish without a licence! This is a social problem which the government must shoulder responsibility. With mounting unemployment in the country, the government is duty-bound to look after these people, and not threaten them with $500 fine for their enterprise to scrape a living for themselves and their family by hawking fish without licence.
The scheme stipulated that retailers should place a deposit with the Fish Marketing Board a sum equivalent to the purchase price of the maximum amount of the fish the retailer would buy from the wholesalers, who are now controlled and managed by the Board.
No fish retailer could buy from the wholesalers, to a value exceeding the amount deposited with the Board. The Board may require all purchase monies to be paid by the retailer within 24 hours of the purchase. If this is not done, the Board will deduct the amount due from the deposit. The next day, the retailer will not be allowed to buy fish more than the value of the reduced deposit, unless he made good the diminished deposit.
This provision will completely dislocate the retail fish trade. Retail fish trade had traditionally been carried out on credit, both for purchases from the wholesaler and for sales to the consumer.
To insist for a deposit to the maximum value of the fish, and for settlement of purchase money within 24 hours, will be serious financial problems for the retailers.
Out of the 3,685 licensed retailers at present, not more than 50 per cent will be able to carry on retail trade on the terms laid down by the FAMA. This means that many of them will be losing their means of employment, because they would not be allowed to buy fish from the Board-managed wholesaler without complying with the Board’s terms and conditions.
The Minister without Portfolio, Senator Ghaffar Baba, had said that the scheme was meant to benefit the retailers. Could he give one way how retailers would benefit under the scheme?
On the contrary, one cannot help having a strong suspicion that the FAMA scheme was meant to drive fish retailers, licensed and unlicensed, out of business.
The provisions concerning wholesalers are also unsatisfactory. There is a five percent charge on every wholesale transaction, which goes to the upkeep of the Board’s operations. This five per-cent levy is bound to pass on to the consumer, leading to increase in price.
In another clause, there is provision for another five-per cent charge to be paid to the auctioneer of wholesale fish by the fish consignor. This again will raise the fish price.
There are considerable room for red tape and bureaucratism in the scheme. Experience tells us that these are always openings for corrupt practices.
We are shocked by the way the scheme was sprung on a the public and fishing industry.
The Scheme was known only in September. The forms for objection were available from the Kuala Lumpur FAMA office only on 22nd October. Yet the FAMA wants objections to be received by November 2. I am sure that there are still many fish traders and fisherman who have not seen the objection forms?
We must ask the FAMA authorities why there is this indecent attempt to ram through the scheme without allowing the public sufficient time to study the scheme thoroughly?
A look at the objection form convinces one that the scheme was drawn up without comprehensive study of the fish trade. The objection forms ask for particulars from wholesales, retailers, fisherman, who object, to give particulars concerning the quantity and value of their daily catch and business details.
One would have thought that these questionnaires should precede the drawing up of the scheme, and not after. It is clear that the FAMA did not have all these particulars when it drew up the scheme.
The least the FAMA could do now is to extend the closing date for another two months up to January 2, so that interested parties can have more time to study the implications of the Scheme.
Meantime, the FAMA authorities should explain to the public and the fish trade how its proposed scheme could actually benefit the retailer, the fisherman and consumer.
I do not see how the utter dislocation of fish trade, which the Scheme under its present form would entail, could benefit either the retailer, the fisherman or the consumer – particularly when it is borne in mind that fish is a highly perishable quantity and goes bad if there is a slight hold-up of sale.
Unless the FAMA can explain how its scheme could benefit the retailer, the consumer and the fisherman, then the FAMA should withdraw the scheme totally. Otherwise, the FAMA will only cause hardships to the retailers, the fisherman and the consumers.
Audited on 2021-03-05