DAYS after news on the controversial fake rice possibly reaching the shores of Asian nations broke, Ipoh folk seem not too bothered about it.
While a handful of them were aware of the deadly plastic rice containing dangerous resin and hoped for extra measures to be taken to stop it from entering Malaysian market, some did not think much about the news.
Some were also not aware of it.
MetroPerak spoke to several sundry shopkeepers, hawker stall owners and consumers to find out how much they knew about the rice, and what should be done to counter it.
Sundry shop owner Jimmy Phuan, 54, said he felt worried when he read about the fake rice in newspapers.
“If you read about something dangerous like this, wouldn’t you feel worried as well?
“Although I feel Malaysian rice sellers rarely buy from China suppliers, I am scared that certain people might push for the rice to be sold here by mixing the fake with the real rice.
“We can only rely on our Government to check every packet of rice coming into the country properly,” he said at his shop in Gunung Rapat.
Asked if he knew how to identify the fake rice, Phuan, who normally sourced his rice from Thailand and local suppliers, said no.
“I’ve never seen fake rice before, which makes this all the more scarier if it comes into our market.
“I hope that will never be the case,” he said.
Meanwhile, another sundry shop owner, who wished to be known only as Pang, 40, said he had heard about the news, but wasn’t worried about the fake rice making its way to his suppliers, and ultimately, his business.
“We buy rice mostly from our Taiping supplier, and I’m sure that if the rice had entered Malaysia, the Government would have detected it at customs first.
“As far as I know, most sundry shop owners don’t buy rice from China, mostly only Thailand,” he said.
It was reported recently in The Star that news of fake rice being sold in China markets have gone viral on social media.
The plastic rice, reportedly made from potatoes, with synthetic resin moulded into the shape of rice grains, is said to have made its way into countries with large rural populations such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam and lately, Singapore.
Health experts and dieticians have warned that consuming such fake grains could be lethal and seriously damage the digestive system.
Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek gave his assurance that they will conduct their investigations, and that they would focus on small sundry shops to check whether they were selling the fake rice, especially in the outskirts and rural areas.
As for hawker stall owners, 46-year-old Hung Kok Leong said he vaguely remembered reading about the news on Facebook.
“I actually never really thought much about it after reading it.
“I just hope that our Government will do what they can to make sure that this rice from China doesn’t get into our country,” he said, adding that he usually gets rice for his economy rice business from sundry stores.
Fellow hawker stall owner Daniel Fadzly, 37, too gets rice for his business from sundry stores.
“I haven’t heard about this news, but I think the Government should step forward and stop fake rice from coming into Malaysia.
“Otherwise the rakyat will suffer, if this rice is as dangerous as they claim,” he said.
For consumers, a 55-year-old homemaker who wished to be known only as Cheong said she did not think that the news about fake rice was true.
“I really think this is all just made up, because rice is not an expensive commodity in the first place.
“Don’t you think the manufacturing process of fake rice would actually be more costly than real rice?” she said.
Cheong also questioned the methods fake rice penetrated the market in other countries.
“If fake rice does exist, maybe they could be selling it to sundry stores and rice merchants at a very low cost.
“What I’m afraid of is that store owners and the merchants themselves might play a part in this by mixing the fake in with real rice just to sell it off,” she said.
Retiree and former banker Zahrol Fauzi, 61, said the existence of fake rice is worrisome because this shows how far people would go to maximise profits.
“They no longer care about the consumers.
“As long as money is going into their pockets, everything is fine for them,” he said.
Zahrol added the Malaysian government must investigate this news.
“We are only the laymen, we wouldn’t know how to differentiate the plastic from normal rice if we were buying them.
“We can only depend on the Government and expertsto inspect the rice for us,” he said.