PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The most sought-after item in Malaysia these days seems to be cooking oil and certain hypermarkets are limiting sales.
A check by The Star in one such outlet saw a sign being put up, informing customers that sale of the item is limited to "two bottles per family per day".
Cooking oil in 5kg, 3kg and 1kg bottles have been flying off the shelves following a recent announcement on the removal of cooking oil subsidies in stages beginning Nov 1.
Several customers said on Sunday (Oct 23) that they were surprised by the empty shelves and limited supply.
Site supervisor Amril Mohd said he decided to buy two bottles for his family, ahead of an expected price hike.
"Yes, I was surprised to see the limited bottles of cooking oil on the shelves.
"Maybe people rushed to snap them up after the news came out," said the 29-year-old.
Mr Amril said he spoke to his father who lived in Kuala Lipis but was told there was no such "obsession".
"Maybe, it's just in the city," he said.
Cafe supervisor Eugene Ong, 40, complained that he had to visit several outlets to buy cooking oil.
Housewife Siti Azmiyah, who was shopping for grocery, played it cool.
"I don't think it will make much of a difference," said the 25-year-old, adding that she usually buys one 5kg bottle which lasts for one-and-a-half months.
Teacher Natalie Chan, 36, said stocking up on cooking oil never crossed her mind.
"I usually buy two bottles every time," said the mother of three.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association Deputy President Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman urged consumers not to go on a panic-buying spree.
"There should be enough supply in the market.
"Problems will occur if everybody starts buying more than what is needed," he said.
In Butterworth, several hypermarkets are facing a shortage due to overbuying.
Housewife M. Jayanti, 54, said she went to three hypermarkets in Prai but still could not find a specific brand of cooking oil.
"I was surprised they ran out of stock.
"Maybe it's a good thing as my family can lead a healthier lifestyle with less oil in my cooking," she said.
Sunshine Wholesale Mart general manager Yee Kam Ming said its outlet in Bayan Baru had ran out of cooking oil but new stock is expected to arrive on Monday.
Sundry shop owner Ong Chin Chong, 58, said he still had plenty of 1kg polybags priced at RM2.50 (S$0.83) each.
State Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said there were 40 teams to monitor the prices of controlled items statewide.