Anwar to Launch Campaign to Save the Paddy Industry

PETALING JAYA, 27 Feb: PKR announced that it will be launching a campaign to save the paddy industry, by the people, for the people, with the goal of restoring the original goal for the establishment of Padi Beras Nasional Berhad (Bernas).

The campaign will be launched by the PKR de facto leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, with the participation of the community of paddy farmers in rice fields at locations that will be announced later on.

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The Kedah PKR Deputy Chairmen, Gooi Hsiao Leung, said that the campaign targets the goal to end the sole importer status enjoyed by Bernas by allowing more companies to enter the market to allow competition, thus allowing consumers to obtain rice at a lower price.

“The campaign is also aims for the government to appoint a public body to regulate and monitor the rice industry to ensure the interests and welfare of farmers and consumers are protected.

“It also refocuses on the national agricultural policy to increase production of rice, thus reducing dependency on imported rice,” said Hsiao Leung in a press conference at the PKR Headquarters yesterday.

Hsiao Leung also criticised the Federal Government’s attitude of ignoring conditions when Bernas took over the role of the National Rice Board (LPN) in 1994 to the detriment of the country’s interests, farmers and consumers, when Bernas was left to stray far from the original purpose of its establishment.

On the other hand, Bernas, with the majority shareholder being Syed Mohtar Al-Buhary at 83.69 percent at the moment, is viewed as monopolising the national rice industry.

This makes Bernas a platform for him to double profits by ignoring responsibility towards national interests, farmers and consumers.

“Actually, there is no responsible government in the world that would hand over the management and staple food security to a private company owned by one individual,” said Hsiao Leung.

Hsiao Leung added that what’s more unfortunate is that the Minister of Agriculture acts like the Bernas spokesperson in defending each move by Bernas, including the time when Bernas was removed from public listing on Bursa Malaysia in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Farmers’ Advocate Association Chairman, Mohd Sobri Said, said that prior to this, farmers, through various associations, protested the move which allowed Bernas to take on the role of the LPN and was ignored by the government.

“Look at what has happened now. The government has lost control of Bernas. Bernas is allowed to do as they please, ignoring their real responsibilities,” said Mohd Sobri.

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