Price rise of rice also gives rise to anxiety among cats and dogs

Puppy Munito waiting obediently for his food: rice mixed with meat. Photo courtesy of Weekly Echo reader.

by Trailerman Sam

When it was announced that the price of imported white rice would be increased by 36 per cent from RM2,350 to RM3,200 per tonne in September this year, even the cats and dogs were not happy! Our poor four-legged friends also fear they might not be fed with rice anymore.

Not many, two or four-legged, would have anticipated that price leap. But I didn’t resort to rushing through a thunderstorm just to get enough stocks to last me a lifetime. Too much of a hassle.

As things stand, only one company in Malaysia has been given the sole import rights for rice. So, it controls the import of rice and makes money out of this.

It also manages the national stockpile of rice in the country. It also buys padi from local farmers. It certainly has a lot on its plate. Sometimes it begs the question: is that one company only able to do what it seems to be doing?

In December last year, that company concerned agreed to distribute a total of RM10 million to the poor and RM50 million to them again this year. Since it was making hay while the sun shone, I was wondering whether what it did recently to comply with the government’s request had anything to do with its “Santa Claus” pay out earlier on.

A recent video posting in Tik-Tok had me pondering how true were the words — we have padi fields but not enough rice, we have palm oil but not enough cooking oil. We have so much of rain every year filling the rivers and yet we have to endure the torment of dry taps quite frequently.

Sometimes the figures, news reports or filings to the authorities don’t lie. The sole rice importer into Malaysia has paid out more than RM744 million in dividends from FY2017 to FY2021, with a bumper payout of RM670.02 million in FY2020. So, it meant that business has been good.

And there have been reports that its concession agreement with the government seemed to be shrouded in secrecy. But what is known from its annual report is that the company’s principal activities are procuring, collecting, processing, importing, exporting, purchasing, storing, packaging, distribution of rice, padi and other grains, including seed production, padi farming and research and development, among others. What a mouthful indeed! What a lo of work it has to do. By just one company!

It is also mandated to ensure a sufficient supply of rice at reasonably fair and stable prices. Its other obligations under the privatisation agreement with the government include the maintenance of a rice stockpile, the distribution of padi price subsidies to farmers for the government and acting as a buyer of last resort at the guaranteed minimum price of padi.

The stockpile it needs to maintain is currently 200,000 tonnes, up from 150,000 tonnes in FY2020. According to news reports, the company concerned also received RM570 million in subsidy funds in FY2021 and RM620 million in FY2020, but paid out RM571.94 million in FY2021 and RM638.86 million in FY2020.

Recently it was reported that the sole rice importer also entered into the sugar business. How sweet. Sugar doesn’t stick to my body even after four cups of espresso for my sugar reading still shows only 4.7.

But I am of the view that even if India had raised the price of rice, we could have bought the commodity at cheaper prices from Thailand or Vietnam, couldn’t we? So, why buy from a more expensive supplier?

Or perhaps others should also be given leeway to scout around and bring cheaper rice into the country. And lessen the burden on the rakyat.

Especially when some politicians have been saying that the country’s economic framework should remain steadfast to the goal of ensuring a just and equitable distribution of economic wealth to the rakyat and that Malaysia should aspire to be a regional economic powerhouse by the end of this decade. What do you think?

Trailerman Sam, a popular silver-haired living soul from Lunas, Kedah, is much sought-after for his ways of the world and views. When not helping the young, middle-aged or old, he is writing feverishly, drinking plenty of coffee or probably star or planet gazing. He can be reached at

The views expressed here are that of the writer’s and not necessarily that of Weekly Echo’s.