KLANG, June 25 – Member of Parliament for Klang, Charles Santiago has called for more concrete and poverty-targeting policies that will help poor families and cushion the B40 community amid the prevailing high prices of food items.
In a statement issued Friday, he suggested that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob disburse RM250 to poor families, kickstart a lunch program in schools and introduce other poverty-targeting policies that would help cushion the B40 community.
This will prevent more people from facing hunger, he said.
Citing the case of a single mother who recently turned up at his office and who was close to giving up as she had no money for food for herself and her four children, he said there could be more Malaysians in the same situation.
“However shocking this may seem, the fact is we may very well be facing a hunger crisis in the country.
“In 2019, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations recorded that 900,000 Malaysians were hungry. In the same year, the World Bank identified that 3 out of 10 Malaysians feel they do not have enough money to buy food.
“Fifty-two percent of households living in low-cost flats in Kuala Lumpur, do not have enough money for food.”
Right now the country is facing a triple whammy: job and income losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic, consequences of the December floods and the exorbitant food prices.
Although the prime minister has responded to the current situation by announcing RM100 in cash to every family, this may not be enough with the rising prices of food, he said.
“The single mum won’t be able to feed her family with this money. Not even for a week. And neither can any other B40 family of four.”
Citing the findings of a study by UNICEF, Santiago said many families in Kuala Lumpur could not afford to eat the same amount of food as they did before their loss of income. Some were reported to eat only one meal a day while others recalled eating more rice, fewer vegetables, and even less meat.
The recent removal of price caps for chicken, eggs and cooking oil will affect the poor, he said.
“While the poor have no more savings, the government has no holistic solution as opposed to Singapore that has unveiled a-S$1.5 billion economic package to combat inflation.”
The prime minister needs to do something fast about this, he added.