Smugglers & Stockpilers Take Advantage of Subsidised Cooking Oil While Netizens Joke About Price Hike
The national inflation has Malaysians anticipating sudden changes and compromised lifestyles, but one particular repercussion of it seems to have impacted citizens a little more than the rest.
Food shortages and the fall of the Malaysian ringgit have collectively made eating out just as heavy a feat as cooking your own meals at home. This is due to the government discontinuing subsidies for bottled cooking oil, leading to price hikes up to RM10 for a 5kg bottle.
Certain brands of cooking oil are currently retailed for RM45. Uncertainty and fear continues to rattle Malaysians as many have resorted to risky behaviour to get their share and perhaps even profit from the imbalanced high demand.
Here is a compilation of some relevant incidences which have been reported so far:
Police confiscate over 2,100kg of subsidised cooking oil stored in Miri-based factory
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) enforcement unit eﬀectively confiscated 2,112kg of subsidised cooking oil during a raid yesterday (July 4), having followed a tip-off and over 2 weeks of monitoring.
A hoarder of reused cooking oil was revealed to be working at the factory, which is thought to retain a stock of subsidised cooking oil. The 25-year-old suspect was discovered to have been stockpiling the oil packets within the factory.
During the raid, the KPDNHEP regulation team discovered 2,112kg of cooking oil stored in packets.
“When asked to present paperwork to justify such activity, he failed to do so. For the time being, he is being held to assist an investigation under Section 21 of the Control of Supplies Act 1961,” said KPDNHEP Miri chief Joe Azmi Jamil, as per The Borneo Post.
Section 21 of the Control of Supplies Act 1961 is a Malaysian law that was passed to provide for supply control and allocation.
Joe Azmi also stated that preliminary investigations revealed that the plan was to buy cooking oil in packets from multiple businesses before transmitting it into barrels and repacking it into tins for sale to enterprises in the Miri area.
The value of the misappropriated cooking oil is approximated to be around RM5,280.
Ministry raids Puchong shophouse for marketing subsidised cooking oil online
A swoop took place last week in Puchong on July 1, under the presumption of potentially violating the Control of Supplies Act 1961 by marketing cooking oil via e-commerce channels.
The raid targeted a shophouse, where stockpiling and product wrapping activities were found to be actively carried out, intended for online sale.
Subsidised cooking oil in 1kg packets as well other groceries were found stored at the site, priced at RM2.50 each.
These acts violate Section 16 of the Control of Supplies Act 1961 and Regulation 3 (1) of the Control of Supplies Regulations 1974.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry Enforcement director Azman Adam confirmed that the persons present at the scene could not produce any form of documentation that permitted their behaviour.
According to The Sun, a few other business-related records were also acquired for further research, with the confiscation totalling RM637.50.
To aid the criminal probe, a statement from a local man claiming to be a worker was also documented.
Police seize 255 packets of subsidised cooking oil from Petaling Jaya
During an investigating procedure last Friday, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) acquired 255kg of concessionary cooking oil in polybags at a building in Petaling Jaya.
The raid was also part of an implementation to eliminate illegal trade of subsidised cooking oil digitally via popular Malaysian e-commerce sites, as reported by Sinar Daily.
KPDNHEP Enforcement Director Azman Adam stated that the investigation found only 1kg cooking oil packets at the site, adding that the suspects behind the illegal trade failed to ensure that they were licensed by the provider to exchange the products under the Control of Supplies Act 1961.
“The raiding crew has taken action against the grounds on presumption of malpractice under Section 16 of the Control of Supplies Act 1961, which is the trade of unauthorised products, and Subregulation 3(1) Supply Control Regulations 1974.
“It states that clients cannot deal wholesale or retail any unpermitted goods that were issued under Rule 4 of the same Act,” he added.
Following that, Azman reported that KPDNHEP had conducted raids in other locations on the same day, and managed to confiscate 27 units of bottled cooking oil ranging from 1kg to 3kg, worth RM858 altogether in Selangor alone.
Sandakan police find subsidised cooking oil worth RM90,000 on unnumbered premise
During a raid on an unidentified premise in Batu 9, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) acquired 17.5 metric tonnes of concessional cooking oil in 1kg packs on Thursday.
Azdy John, Chief Enforcement Officer of KPDNHEP Sandakan, stated that the misappropriated cooking oil was worth more than RM90,000.
He asserted that the constrained goods were retained in a store that did not have a KPDNHEP permit or licence.
“The evening raid came after a week of information gathering. During the raid, a citizen in his 30s declared to be the holder of the items,” he said, adding that the operation had been progressing for more than a year.
A tanker truck and a ‘skid tank’ were used to contain the subsidised cooking oil from the snipped plastic packages. These were discovered during a further inspection of the site on the same day.
As a joke, netizens encourage others to use prayer oil as an alternative for cooking oil…
Malaysians are notorious for making comedic comments to ease one another during times of distress, and one running gag is a suggestion to cut back on expenses and use prayer oil to cook food at home.
Although many have declared the matter satirical, and some were not fooled, others have expressed fear that the joke may be, or may have already been, taken seriously by those in need.
The joke hailed from this photo, which has since gone viral as the Facebook page claimed that it could be used for cooking purposes and therefore consumption:
As per World Of Buzz, local preacher Firdaus Wong has urged netizens to stop sharing the photo, even if it is in a joking manner.
“It’s okay to joke but Islam forbids us to spread lies, even when joking,” he said.
Besides in a religious context, the concept of using prayer oil in place of edible cooking oil is potentially harmful in case certain netizens and older persons fail to notice that the idea is unsafe and may pose adverse effects on one’s health.
Malaysians are forced to endanger their health by reusing cooking oil
In an ideal world, fresh cooking oil would be used in the process of preparing each new meal. However, the declining economical state of countries affected by the inflation has made this an unattainable necessity.
Reusing oil is sometimes practical, but there are multiple limitations and factors to consider when doing this. In many cases, people cannot ensure that the oil is still safe for consumption.
Netizens have weighed in on the matter, as reusing oil has become the habit of money-strained Malaysians; saying that their financial situations forced them to turn to reusing and reheating oil just to keep their expenses in check, despite knowing the risks.
From a general stance, oil that is not strained well or stored perfectly may lead to health issues. The quality of the oil and its smoke point also play a role in its eligibility to be reused.
Contaminated oil can become carcinogenic, cause weight gain, diabetes, heart problems and increase LDL cholesterol. Health experts have warned not to reuse cooking oil more than 3 times.
Klang police detain three Nigerians and shut down a cooking oil smuggling operation
Amidst the financial crisis, some have seized opportunities to make profitable exchanges with other countries- spreading Malaysia’s criminal agenda surrounding cooking oil to a global scale.
One such case saw three Nigerian men arrested in Klang for purportedly attempting to smuggle subsidised cooking oil into their home nation by obscuring it in cookware intended for trade.
As reported by Malay Mail, their tactic was to buy cheap cooking oil from citizens and conceal up to 3 packets in a kettle or an electric cooker for shipping to Nigeria.
The accused, aged 30s to 40s, were apprehended when police searched a vehicle parts and accessories store in Bandar Baru Klang on June 27, according to North Klang district police chief ACP S Vijaya Rao.
According to him, police confiscated 1,100 packets of cooking oil, 225 kettles, and 51 units of electrical items valued at RM18,910 during the raid, which was conducted in due to widespread public grievances.
“We assume the perpetrators smuggled the goods due to the high cost of cooking oil in Nigeria. We’re now undertaking additional investigations to ascertain how much cooking oil was smuggled out,” said Vijaya Rao.
The trio’s passports expired three years ago, and they have been renting the premises for the last five years.
Thai national says cooking oil smuggled from Kelantan has made its way to southern Thai markets
According to Abe Mat Sulaiman, subsidised cooking oil has been trafficked out of Kelantan and marketed at business premises there.
Abe is a Thai national who resides in a village in Narathiwat.
This issue arises as Kelantan is experiencing a cooking oil shortage, with consumers restricted to only 1kg or 2kg per payment at super markets.
Cooking oil from Malaysia, on the other hand, is easily obtainable in 1kg containers across the border, particularly in Narathiwat, Sungai Golok, Weng, and Sungai Padi.
“Multiple brands of packed cooking oil from Malaysia are readily accessible here and marketed at several stores.”
“Vendors are offering at 55 baht (RM7) in the market and also in grocery stores,” he told The Star.
“Thai folks don’t have an issue with the production of cooking oil in this form of packaging because it’s always accessible and very seldom runs out,” he added.
As of yesterday (July 4), Malaysian officials have acquired more than RM38.2 million in misappropriated subsidised products, according to Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.
These seizures amounted RM854,252 in cooking oil.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob also announced yesterday that the National Action Council on Cost of Living has consented to assess the output of sunflower oil in 1kg polybags, as reported by FMT.
He explained that this was implemented to avoid leaks and to guarantee that the RM4 billion expended on subsidising cooking oil marketed in polybags would reach customers as intended.