October 15, 2020 @ 11:10am
KUALA LUMPUR: There is no need for panic buying as there is sufficient supply of food and other essential items during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi assured that the items were all available at reasonable prices.
"The ministry has received information that people in several places have resorted to panic buying following the announcement by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob).
"We guarantee that food and other essential items are available in sufficient amounts at reasonable prices.
"People are advised to make necessary purchases only and refrain from hoarding and stocking up on supplies," he said yesterday.
Alexander said the ministry also stepped up enforcement nationwide to ensure the supplies continued to be available at reasonable prices.
"The ministry has mobilised 2,269 enforcement personnel nationwide to ensure adequate supplies without any price hikes.
"The ministry is enforcing the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011, the Control of Supplies Act 1961 and all subsidiary regulations."
Alexander also encouraged consumers to make online purchases, reduce physical movements at business premises, as part of the measures to break the Covid-19 transmission chain.
However, checks by the New Straits Times at several areas in Kuala Lumpur found that panic buying was rife with shelves at many supermarkets and convenience stores left empty.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj warned consumers that panic buying was a vicious cycle that should not be practised.
"Panic buying keeps recurring because the fear and uncertainty about the implementation of control orders triggers the behaviour.
"But, consumers are overlooking the consequences of this vicious cycle.
"When people start hoarding supplies, it further escalates panic among public, and in turn more people will resort to panic buying and deplete the supplies."
Selvaraj also urged the government to beef up enforcement activities to ensure that supplies remained sufficient throughout the CMCO period.
Echoing this, social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said panic buying was not justifiable, although it was a psychological reaction that stemmed from uncertainty.
"This is not only a moral question, but also one that involves health and safety of the panic buyers themselves.
"When shops get overcrowded, physical distancing can no longer be practised and the panic buyers expose themselves to the risk of Covid-19 infection."
Lee called on the public to be more considerate towards the underprivileged members of the community.
"Not everyone has enough money to immediately buy supplies in bulk. Panic hoarding, therefore, will deprive people from the low-income group to get their essentials."
Lee felt the government should have sorted out the necessary standard operating procedures (SOP) prior to announcing that CMCO would be implemented in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor.
"The government should have announced the necessary SOP simultaneously when they implemented the CMCO instead of doing so a day later.
"That would have also allowed traders to stock up more supplies, so that they could brace for the panic buying that would ensue after the announcement."