PETALING JAYA: Melaka executive councillor Dr Akmal Saleh has defended his “raids” on rice mills in the state, saying he acted with government agency officers present.
Akmal also claimed that the covert stockpiling of local white rice might have gone unnoticed if not for his proactive “raids” on rice mills since last month.
“I understand the law. I’m not a fool,” the state rural development, agriculture and food security committee chairman told FMT.
“But if I hadn’t brought to light the concealed rice stockpile, we might still be unaware of these activities to this day,” he said in response to a statement made by agriculture and food security minister Mohamad Sabu yesterday.
In the Dewan Rakyat, Mohamad had reminded all parties not to independently conduct raids on rice mills and take videos of them doing so.
Without singling out Akmal, the minister said there were laws that everyone must abide by, and that police reports could be lodged instead.
In a viral video, Akmal was seen admonishing a rice miller because he allegedly refused to sell local rice at prices set by the government. He then threatened to revoke the rice miller’s licence, seize his goods and seal off his factory.
Akmal, who is also Umno Youth chief, maintained that all complaints received by the authorities must be addressed promptly and bureaucratic requirements should be removed.
“In this day and age, information is at your fingertips. We should utilise technology to make it easy for people to file complaints and for them to know their complaints are being acted upon.”
The agriculture and food security ministry has been actively inspecting warehouses in light of the shortage of local white rice. On Monday, a special task force seized a hidden stash of local white rice worth about RM405,000 in an unlicensed storage warehouse in Kedah.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim had also warned that legal action would be taken against anyone found hoarding rice. This was also to prevent consumers from stockpiling.
Malaysia, which imports approximately 38% of its rice needs, is among countries affected by export restrictions imposed by top rice producers such as India, resulting in consumer panic-buying and higher prices.