Closure of KR1M due to govt running out of funds, says Amanah

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PETALING JAYA: Amanah claims the “temporary” closure of Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) retail outlets is due to the government running short of funds and poor governance in the Najib Razak administration.

Amanah Youth deputy chief Faiz Fadzil dismissed the explanation by minister of domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism Hamzah Zainudin that the closure was to improve KR1M as a mere excuse.

Faiz questioned the rationale for closing almost all the KR1M outlets in the country at the same time rather than in stages which would not hurt their daily operations.

He alleged the true reason for shutting down the outlets was the depletion of funds in the national treasury due to “weaknesses in the governance of the Najib administration”.

“The economy is in dire straits today because of the depreciation of the ringgit and the loss of confidence of investors in the governance in the country,” he said.

He pointed to the statement by former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz that the national currency would not recover as long as the 1MDB embezzlement issue remained unresolved.

Yesterday, Hamzah said the “temporary closure” of KR1M outlets was part of a programme of improvements called KR1M 2.0.

Hamzah said the programme would strengthen cooperation between various government agencies and open up wider business opportunities to local manufacturers and producers.

Faiz said Hamzah’s reason conflicted with the statement by Mydin Mohamed Holdings Sdn Bhd, the supermarket operator given the responsibility to manage KR1M six years ago.

Mydin, whose contract expired in July, said it made huge losses in the KR1M operation.

Faiz said small and medium scale enterprises which depended on marketing their products through the KR1M outlets would suffer with the closure of the outlets, and this would create earnings and employment problems.

Meanwhile, veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang described the KR1M closure as “a sign of the failure of Najib’s economics and his policies”.

“A brainchild of the prime minister, the KRIM stores were meant to appeal to urban Malaysians with low-income levels, by selling basic necessities like rice, cooking oil, milk powder and diapers at prices 30 to 50% lower than at supermarkets,” he said in a statement today.

Lim said Mydin managing director Ameer Ali Mydin admitted in July this year that KR1M was a “massive loss-making project” and it had only continued operating to benefit Malaysians.

“But Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi accused Mydin of selling goods above market prices and, thus, profiteering from operating the stores,” he added.

Lim used the KR1M closure, the financial woes besetting Felda, and the issue of the National Higher Education Fund’s (PTPTN) study loan defaulters to take a dig at Najib’s claim of helping to “strengthen the US economy” during his meeting with US President Donald Trump recently.

“Undoubtedly, ordinary Malaysians facing the closure of KRIM stores selling essential necessities at affordable prices, the 100,000 Felda settlers and 700,000 PTPTN defaulters are more in need of help from Najib than the American economy.

“It is time that Najib wake up to the harsh realities and hard truth that neither he nor the Malaysian government and economy could really help the American economy.

“But his job and responsibility as prime minister is to help all Malaysians see through the present economic crisis so that Malaysia, and not America, can be great again!”