KUALA LUMPUR, November 10 (IslamOnline.net) - Malaysian authorities are on the alert since the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan to control price hikes in consumer commodities.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin warned wholesalers and trailers, especially cooking oil manufacturers, of any mark-up.
He warned all those who would take advantage of the people during the hold days, noting that those arrested would face the Price Control Act.
The Act allows the government to seize goods or to take strong actions if any vendors are found guilty of increasing prices or monopoly.
"It is the responsibility of retailers, manufacturers and distributors to guarantee sufficient supply," he said on threats by cooking oil manufacturers to increase prices.
His stern warning to the local cooking oil manufacturers also applies to local distributors and wholesalers and even farmers, said an enforcement officer who was on one of his rounds of checks in Kuala Lumpur Monday, November 10.
"This is the time when people get bonuses, get paid early and are in total folly with shopping for clothes and foods. Some people may think itís appropriate to charge them higher for some items like chicken and fish," the officer said.
A brief interview with some housewives at a local market in Ampang city in the state of Selangor revealed that there was indeed a steep increase in the price even before the advent of Ramadan.
"They said there was shortage on the market so price must go up. Yet itís always like that for Ramadan or Eid and even new year here," Ayyuni, a housewife, told IslamOnline.net.
After receiving numerous complaints about merchant's greed and exploitation, Malaysian officers dressed in plain clothes took their case to the markets to make sure and check price tags.
"In some cases, we even check the weighing machines of local vendors. They may trick the buyers and sell them lesser for more money and we do find those who do that and we have heavy fines for that too," said the officer who requested anonymity.
"This does not happen in Kuala Lumpur or Ampang only, itís something that happens even in villages, though the cases are more concentrated in cities like Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru," he added.
But Malaysians urged authorities to send more troops in the markets
"I see so many policemen on the streets these days, yet in shops and markets price is rising like hell fireÖIt is time for the authorities to send more officers in these places rather on the streets," said Feroza, an angry mother of 5 children at the Ampang market.
"Chicken price is beyond control and itís gone so high, 20 percent more than usual,Ē she added.
Besides chicken and fish, the price for fresh meat and eggs as well as some vegetables are rising in Kuala Lumpur. In some cases there are increases of 10 to 25% in prices.