Tan tells Chong to name the sugar AP holders


Tan Kai

KUCHING: A political secretary to the chief minister has challenged Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen to disclose the eight food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers in Sarawak that have been granted the sugar import permits (APs).

Tan Kai said the deputy minister, who is Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman, should not just give the name of the eight F&B companies in Sarawak but also inform how the ministry arrived at a decision to grant the APs to those companies.

“We urge Chong to disclose the name of the eight F&B companies and to let public be aware of the ministry’s selection criteria, approval process and eligibility,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Tan said the DAP used to criticise the previous government about the abuse of APs, saying that APs had been granted to cronies.

“So DAP should openly announce the name of the companies who obtained the APs to prove that they are not abusing the APs,” said the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) leader.

In order to encourage other small-time F&B manufacturers to apply for the APs, Tan reiterated that the deputy minister should make known the selection criteria, approval process and eligibility.

He said this is so that small-time F&B manufacturers who are interested in venturing into the industry could assess their production cost for future competition in the market.

On June 20, Chong, in a statement, said the eight F&B manufacturers in Sarawak are now getting their sugar supply from Thailand at RM1.70 per kg after they were granted APs to import sugar.

“All these years, Sarawak F&B manufacturers have been at the mercy of the two local sugar refineries namely MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd (MSM) and Central Sugar Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR).

“While their counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia are getting their supply of sugar from these two local refiners at RM2.20 per kg, Sarawak F&B manufacturers are getting their supply from the same two refiners at RM2.70 per kg and, at times, even higher prices.

“Such huge differential price cries foul of exploitation and discrimination against the Sarawak F&B manufacturing sector,” said Chong, defending the ministry’s decision to grant the APs.

Prior to this, MSM has appealed to the ministry to reconsider its decision on granting the APs to F&B manufacturers in Sarawak.

MSM added that the decision was made without fully understanding the background and current responsibilities of the domestic sugar industry and the mid- to long-term impact on the sugar supply and food security in the country.