A focus on affordability


Ups and downs: Saifuddin gave himself a slightly above average rating as the leader of his Ministry, but conceded a backlog of agenda implementations.

PUTRAJAYA: With the rising cost of living continuing to be a top concern in the country, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has its work cut out.

Its minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said he was well aware of the gravity of his ministry’s responsibility in curtailing the escalating prices of mainly food and fuel.

He has been the driving force behind the Food Bank initiative, which was introduced to provide food aid to the poor.

“That is among the achievements I can be proud of,’’ he said in an interview.

Besides the main objective, he said the initiative also helped to create a culture of volunteerism among the people.

“It also helps educate supermarkets, restaurants and hotels to avoid food wastage and to donate excess food to the Food Bank secretariat,” Saifuddin added.

Another notable achievement of his ministry, he said, was being the main driver in the implementation of the RON95 petrol targeted subsidy scheme.

Saying there was still much to do, Saifuddin gave himself what he termed a “slightly above average rating of 6.5” for his performance so far as its minister.

He admitted having yet to fully implement several matters on his agenda.

With the petrol subsidy scheme in its final stages, Saifuddin said he would turn his attention to shortening supply chains to drive down prices for consumers.

To do this, he said the next few areas he would focus on were boosting e-commerce and conducting a supply-chain analysis to curb profiteering.

On politics, the PKR secretary-general acknowledged that Pakatan Harapan was now lacking support from the Malays.

He said that despite this, the ruling coalition remained formidable.

“Pakatan has a clear structure and leadership. There is no political coalition in Malaysia that moves like we do,” he said, adding that Pakatan also never missed its monthly meetings.

He debunked the perception that Pakatan would be a “one-term wonder”.

“In terms of the Malay vote, Umno is the highest, PAS second and PKR being the third. This has been the trend and it has not changed.

“But the four years ahead of us is a long period, anything can happen.

“So I say all the best to Umno, have a good friendship and be patient with the antics (karenah) of PAS!” he added.

He pointed out that strong Malay support alone did not guarantee a coalition could become the government.

“I was in the opposition in 1999 which was the year in which we had the highest percentage of Malay support at 63%,” he said.

However, Barisan Nasional still won the general election that year with a two-thirds majority, he said.

“So can Malay support of 63% enable the opposition to be the government? No!” he added.


   

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