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Friday, May 20, 2022

M expected to win some, lose some in AP removal for food imports


The government abolished approved permits for certain food imports, excluding rice, on Wednesday.

GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob may win the public over with the government’s decision to do away with approved permits (APs) for food imports but it is likely to cost him the support of political warlords who own such licences.

It is no secret that APs are closely tied to political patronage, political analyst Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara acknowledged in an interview with FMT, but he said Ismail’s move would go a long way to cement public support for his administration in the run-up to the 15th general election (GE15).

“The cartels have a strong influence on our businesses, but this is a decision that will be popular with the people as there will be a free flow of food,” he said.

“It is a populist move requiring strong political will.

“Ismail has been prime minister without the support of warlords for quite some time, and I guess he has decided he needs support more from the general population than from these warlords.”

Another analyst, Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, described the decision as “courageous”.

He agreed that many AP holders were politically well connected, but he said they might not necessarily be aligned to Ismail’s camp.

“If their interests are harmed, they would harden their political positions against him.”

Oh said it remained to be seen whether the goodwill Ismail would earn among small and medium businesses and consumers at large would be significant enough to withstand the anticipated backlash from AP holders.

Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim also weighed in on the matter on Twitter, stating that the move to abolish APs to import food was a “fantastic decision” and would go a long way in ensuring Ismail’s “continued popularity”.

Ismail announced ending APs for food imports on Wednesday in a Cabinet-endorsed move aimed at ensuring sufficient food supply.

However, APs for rice imports still remain in effect. - FMT

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