KUALA LUMPUR: The Government should be more transparent and forthcoming with information about the supply of face masks in the country, says Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon.
The MCA deputy president said more should be done by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to ensure each citizen who wants a face mask would have no problem getting it.
"It is not enough to ask manufacturers to increase the production of face masks.
"The people should be informed on its stockpile level in the country so they don't resort to panic buying.
"Since it's a controlled item now, the ministry should keep updating the figures frequently on how many face masks are produced each day and where they go," he said here on Wednesday (Feb 12).
Dr Mah, together with MCA Youth chief Nicole Wong Siaw Ting and other leaders were distributing some 500 three-ply face masks to members of the public in front of Wisma MCA on Jalan Ampang here.
If 10% of Malaysia's 32 million total population need a face mask every day, Dr Mah said the country will need more than 20 million face masks a week, or 80 million a month.
"Since the virus outbreak is still evolving, can our producers and importers meet such demand? The onus is on the ministry to keep the entire nation updated," he said.
It was reported on Feb 7 that Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail had asked local manufacturers to increase the production of face masks by another 400,000 pieces daily to ensure sufficient supply.
He also said the government would set up stockpiles nationwide so that there would not be shortage issues.
Face masks are controlled items with prices set at 80 sen for each three-ply mask and RM6 per unit for the N95 mask.
Meanwhile, MCA international communication and diplomacy bureau chairman Dr Tee Ching Seng called on the government to develop a centralised supply chain app to oversee the supply and sale of face masks in the country.
"The ministry can appoint major pharmacy chains to be the authorised retail points and compel local producers or importers to ensure sufficient supplies of face masks to these outlets.
"Malaysian citizens can then check on the availability of the face masks from the app and proceed to purchase them using their MyKad," he said, adding it was not a difficult app to develop.
The method will assist the ministry in preventing over-purchases and a price war of the items, he added.