Dr Wee urges govt to remove sugar subsidies

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong has expressed concern over media reports claiming the government has been providing sugar subsidies since last year.

"According to media reports, the government has been subsidising RM1.00 per kilogram for raw sugar and refined sugar since November 2023.

“The Health Ministry never mentioned anything about sugar subsidies in Parliament at the end of last year, but suddenly, the largest sugar producer, MSM, has received a huge amount of subsidies from the government,” wrote the Ayer Hitam MP in a Facebook post on Monday (Feb 26).

He said that he disagreed with the way the subsidy was being distributed if it was true.

Dr Wee explains that Malaysia has consistently been listed as having one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, and subsidising sugar would encourage higher sugar consumption.

“If the government wants to subsidise the people's necessities, it would be better to subsidise chicken, which has clearly increased in price to RM10.33 per kilogram compared to RM8.00 per kilogram before the government acted to abolish it in November 2023,” he added.

Dr Wee lauded what the Barisan Nasional (BN) government did in 2013 by abolishing sugar subsidies and what the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government did in 2019 by imposing a tax on sugary drinks as incentives to improve the health of Malaysians.

“The government must always be responsible for the well-being of the people now and in the future.

“Returning sugar subsidies in large quantities is a step backwards in the government's reforms towards eliminating comprehensive subsidies and affecting the health of Malaysians,” he said.

Dr Wee further illustrates his point by estimating that RM1.00 per kilogram of sugar introduced will add a burden of around RM500mil to RM600mil per year to the government's expenditure.

“Therefore, I suggest the government re-examine and consider the cancellation of this sugar subsidy for the good of the people's health and the sustainability of the existing policy.”

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