Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Food security is no small issue.
Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) strongly supports and wishes to quote from a letter in Malaysiakini by Josie Fernandez in her capacity as an Asian Public Intellectual Fellow under the Nippon Foundation Programme for Asian Public Intellectuals: “Food security is the most important issue in the 21st century. Issues like access to land, climate change, changing food culture and consumption patterns have impacted on food supplies and availability of food. However, the single most important factor that determines access to adequate food is rising prices of food.”
We do not need to emphasise again that food is one of the three basic needs of humankind. When there is a scarcity of basic foodstuff, or prices have escalated beyond the affordability of the masses, this often leads to riots as the saying goes, “A hungry man is an angry man”. Food security is therefore an important area that cannot be compromised, in order to ensure that the country continues to have peace and harmony.
TI-M fully agrees with Ms Fernandez that Dato Sri’ Najib Tun Razak, in his Budget 2014, has to be more transparent this time in ensuring that people with the right expertise are being given the opportunity to develop the food production industry.
As a Government that is committed to good governance, Najib Tun Razak should also make every effort to recover the money (RM240 million) given to the National Feedlot Corporation. By now, Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak should have learnt the mistake especially after Japanese company, Kirimitonas Agro Sdn Bhd decided not to take over all National Feedlot Corporation assets and liabilities. If the venture is profitable, there is no reason why Kirimitonas would not want to take up the business deal. However, due to a lack of transparency in the way how the money was disbursed, and subsequently used, we do not know where the funds are now, and whether it has been fully recovered.
Meanwhile, if the country has to continue to import beef to meet the local demand, Malaysia will remain a net importer of food. MIDA’s statistics reveal that in 2011, import of food was RM34.5 billion, which is way above what PETRONAS contributes as dividend to the Government in 2012 (RM27 billion). This is serious; therefore, TI-M calls on the Government to give any grant or funding to any company, be it run by Bumiputra or non-Bumiputra, which has already years of running the business successfully.