Fomca: Address public concerns in manifestos
Writer: Brenda Ch'ng
Published: Fri, 06 Jul 2012
PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Consumers Wishlist for the 13th General Election will be given to all 31 political parties and candidates as a guide to what their manifestos should be.
Marimuthu talking about the public’s wishlist for the general election.
The wishlist compiled in a two- year-survey by the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) found that escalating food prices, poor public transportation and rising crime top the list of public concerns
“We hope candidates will also commit to solving these issues for the benefit of the people,” said Fomca president Datuk Marimuthu Nadason, while disclosing the findings recently.
He pointed out that voters would more likely give their mandate to candidates who were ready to address these issues seriously.
The nationwide survey involved 30,000 people and was conducted between 2009 and 2010 under Fomca’s National Consumer Campaign.
Fomca chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selva Raj said both the rural and urban shared the same concern about the increasing prices of food and daily necessities.
At the same time, both lower and middle income consumers are also worried that their stagnant salaries will no longer be able to cope with inflation,
While there are global factors affecting prices of imported foods, Fomca is calling for policy intervention to help Malaysians cope with the high cost of living.
Public development expenditure for Malaysian agriculture fell from 22 per cent in 1980 to 3.8 per cent in 2007, while local agriculture production fell from 22.9 per cent in 1980 to 7.7 per cent in 2007.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s import bill increased from RM11.6 billion in 2003 to RM35 billion in 2008.
“This has resulted in Malaysia depending on the uncertainty in international markets of food prices,” he said.
Fomca proposes that the Competition Act 2012 be actively implemented to prevent monopolies and stop other groups from fixing food prices.
They also pointed out that the agricultural sector deserves more investment by the government to boost the production of more local products and bring down food prices.
The “pasar tani” (morning markets) concept should also be expanded to help benefit local farmers and consumers.
“There are 34,630 hectares of agricultural land in Malaysia and 35 per cent of it is no longer used. These lands should be rehabilitated to enhance food production.”
Poorly planned public transportation was a common grouse in both urban and rural areas.
“We were actually shocked to discover that people in the rural areas are concerned about the lack of public transportation in their area,” said Paul.
People rated buses unreliable and not well maintained while connectivity is poor or not integrated.
“People are finding it hard to get from their home to the station and then from the station to work. There is nothing connecting the last mile of their journey,” he said..
Most villagers, who do not own cars, are also finding it hard to travel and transport their agricultural products to town.
Fomca hopes the government will take in the public’s concerns and commit to improving the public transport system in the Klang Valley and country.
“Consumers want a public transport system that is reliable, has shorter commute time, comfortable, access to route and time information and better infrastructure like walkways and bus lanes.”
Increase in crime particularly snatch thefts was also raised by those polled.
“When the survey was conducted in 2010, there were many crime cases happening and that’s why the public was concerned and wanted something done about it,” said Marimuthu.
The survey results are available online at www.fomca.org.my.
Also at the press conference was Fomca council member Ismail Abdul Aziz.