Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the Petaling DAP Liaison Commission meeting at Petaling Jaya DAP premises on Thursday, 7th May 1981 at 7.30 p.m.
DAP cables Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to take immediate action to reduce price of sugar to reduce the hardships of the poor
Malaysia seems to be at the threshold of another runaway double-digit inflation, with prices of a whole range of goods leapfrogging each other.
In Malaysia, inflatior is merely an excellent opportunity for manufacturers to make even greater profits at the expense of the consumers and the masses. International price increases are in variable pounced upon by the manufacturers and the government for local price increases, but the fall in international prices are not followed by a similar reduction in prices in Malaysia.
Sugar is a good example. Since October last year, the international price of sugar had been falling sharply, from the six-year high of £422 per tonne in October 1980 to £175 per tonne on May 1 in the London international sugar market – a fall of some 70 per cent.
While the international sugar price had been falling rapidly in the last seven months, the retail price of sugar in Malaysia had increased twice, from 65 cents to 75 cents per kati in October, and again from 75 cents to $1.05 per kati in January this year.
In fact, if the Malaysian retail price of sugar should fully reflect the international fall of sugar price of some 70 per cent, then the Malaysian retail price of sugar should be brought down to some 30 cents a kati.
The failure of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to adjust the retail price of sugar downwards to reflect the fall in the international price of sugar can only be benefits the sugar tycoons and manufacturers in the country.
The dap calls on the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to take immediate action to reduce the price of sugar. In the same way that the retail price of sugar had increased to its $1.05 a kati in two stages, the retail price of sugar could be reduces by two stages to reflect the international price of sugar by firstly, an immediate reduction to the 75 cents a kati level, before deciding on a second stage reduction to truly reflect the international sugar price.
I have today sent a cable to the Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, urging him to take immediate action to reduce the retail price of sugar, and not to continue with the Trade Ministry’s policy of inaction which could only disadvantage consumers and benefit sugar manufacturers.
Recently, there were voices opposing a reduction in the price of sugar on the ground that this would reduce sugar consumption in Malaysia, on the ground that Malaysians already consumer more sugar than other countries.
This argument can only benefit the sugar manufacturers to make even greater profits, for the question of getting Malaysians to reduce sugar consumption must be completely separated from the retail price of sugar and should not be used an excuse by manufacturers to make even greater profits at the consumers’ expense.