PETALING JAYA/IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Consumers in Malaysia must avoid panic buying as there is sufficient and continuous supply of essential items to last the country throughout the current movement control order (MCO), said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.
The ministry's enforcement director Azman Adam said it conducts monitoring of suppliers, wholesalers and retailers to ensure there would be enough supply for consumers throughout MCO 3.0.
He added that hoarding by consumers would lead to a supply disruption.
"The ministry conducts daily checks nationwide to ensure there is enough supply, especially for the MCO 3.0 period," he said in a statement on Friday (May 21).
"We advise consumers to make their daily purchases in the needed quantity only. Any change to consumer behaviour, such as 'hoard-buying', will lead to a disruption in local supply, which will then create panic among other consumers," he said.
Malaysia on Friday announced that it will tighten the enforcement of the ongoing movement curbs, including adding restrictions to parts of the economic and social sectors.
The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that details on the additional restrictions will be announced by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob at a news conference on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Johor Consumers Movement Association chairman Md Salleh Sadijo welcomed the ministry's move to constantly monitor the supply chain.
"This gives confidence to consumers about the adequate supply of essential items even with Malaysia under MCO.
"Consumers, however, should be smart by buying only what they need, instead of buying in huge quantity," he said.
He also reminded retailers, suppliers and wholesalers not to exploit consumers by increasing prices indiscriminately.
In Ipoh, while some people joined long lines to stock up on essential items as they prepare for a stricter MCO, others were cool about the situation, saying that there is no need for panic buying, as has been proven in previous versions of the MCO.
Even before the announcement placing Ipoh and other districts in the state under a 14-day enhanced MCO came on Thursday evening, there were already queues at several major supermarkets and hypermarkets.
Photographs of long lines of shoppers made their rounds on social media.
Teacher Ambiga Pillay, 60, said there was no need for panic buying and it was not worth the risk going to a crowded place.
"Since only my husband and I are at home, we don't really need to get a lot of things. And when we do need anything, we can always go to the sundry shops nearby.
"I am sure there are enough essential items for everyone... there's no need to panic and start hoarding, " she said.
Music teacher Lee Yan Di, 30, concurred, saying that "for my family, there will be no panic buying".
Commenting on the online photos of people waiting at the entrance of shopping centres and hypermarkets, she said: "I don't understand why people still do that after going through several MCOs since last year. We are still allowed to go out to buy groceries so there is definitely no need to stock up."
Supervisor T. Roshene Malar, 41, said her aged parents, who live in Batu Gajah, panicked after learning about the enhanced MCO.
They were concerned about going out to buy essential items with potential long queues. I had to calm them and told them I will help them buy whatever is required for at least two weeks."
"I live in Ipoh, and will need to take half-day leave to sort out matters for my parents," she said.
Ipoh central market chicken seller Zaini Shaari said it was crowded between 6am and 9am on Friday.
"It was definitely more crowded compared with the last few days. Business has been good before the Hari Raya celebrations until today but I think it will slow down from Saturday," he said.
Fishmonger Jasni Jamal, 52, said her stock was almost sold out before 9am.
"Most are favourites like sardines, mackerel, prawns and squid," she said.
She assured customers that there would be supplies even during the enhanced MCO period.