18/09/2007 (New Straits Times Online) - The Miri Bumiputera Traders Association (PBMS) claimed that certain groups may have played up the cooking oil shortage issue here on to trigger panic buying, especially among Muslims who will be celebrating Aidilfitri soon.
PBMS deputy president Abdul Razak Joni said it was puzzling to note that a shortage could have occurred when the ministries concerned had made more than enough preparations to ensure sufficient supply of such consumer products.
“However, if consumers fall prey to rumours that there would not be enough cooking oil and start to buy in large quantities, they can actually cause a shortage,” he told Bernama here today.
He added that consumers should verify with the authorities should they hear of any shortage of consumers goods in the market and not be influenced or intimidated by hearsay.
The local newspapers had over the last few days reported a shortage of cooking oil in several supermarkets as consumers were unable to purchase packages of 5kg and below, leading Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin to call for an investigation.
However, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s enforcement chief here, Zakaria Awang, said that checks so far had found that there was no shortage of cooking oil and that only one supermarket here was having a slow flow of supply over the weekend.
The large number of weekend shoppers from Brunei could not have caused a shortage as the amount of cooking oil that they could bring across the border was restricted, he added.
At the same time, Zakaria said, pre-emptive measures were also in place to overcome any shortages and there was more than enough reserve stock to meet the demand.
“I hope the public will not perceive that a shortage of an item has taken place just because you could not find it on the shopping rack in a supermarket. Try another outlet or supermarket first and if you still cannot find it, then you can call us,” he said adding that the enforcement division could be reached at 085-412862.