Statement by Chong Chieng Jen:
The ceiling price of RM2.00 per piece of 3-ply face mask is definitely too expensive.
Before the covid-19 pandemic, the costs of production for a box of 3-ply face mask could be as low as RM13.00 per box of 50 (i.e. RM0.26 per piece). I bought it at that price before the declaration of “covid-19 pandemic” by World Health Organisation.
No matter how high demand has gone up, the costs of production could not have increased by 8 times within a short period of 1 month.
Furthermore, as more factories are switching their producing facemasks and its raw material, in 2 – 3 months’ time, the supply will increase to push down the costs of production.
In case the new Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs still does not realise, the new ceiling price of RM2.00 per facemask will make it unaffordable for many.
Take for example, a family of five, at normal times, if all were to use face masks when going about their daily routines, eg. going to work, schooling, doing grocery shopping etc and that each only use one for a whole day, that would be RM10 per day just to buy facemasks an RM300 per month. It is just not affordable for low income families.
By setting such a high ceiling price for 3-ply face mask, the government is practically disenfranchising the low-income earners their rights to use the 3-ply face masks.
This will not only affect the low-income group but the whole community at large. This is because in the fight against the covid-19 pandemic, we have to fight it collectively. If there are a substantial segment of the community not wearing facemasks, it will compromise the effectiveness of those who wear them also.
Therefore, as the former Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, I call upon the present government and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to cancel the present gazetted price and revert the ceiling price of 3-ply face mask to previous
RM0.80 per piece.
In fact, the Pakatan Harapan Government has approved an allocation for the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affair for the purchase of facemasks for distribution. We were not in time to implement it because of the fall of the PH Government. Nevertheless, the fund is there already and the present Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affair can just utilise the fund for the purpose approved.
If the present government doesn’t want to give out facemasks for free, it can utilise the fund to subsidize the costs to maintain it at RM0.80 per piece (provided the costs is truly more than RM0.80 per piece).
All I ask of him is to have the heart for the poorer sector of the community.