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MPs trade barbs over Menu Rahmah programme

The dispute was sparked by a question on the viability of the government's affordable food programme.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
A worker packs food into a plastic bag, to be sold under the government's Menu Rahmah programme.
A worker packs food into a plastic bag, to be sold under the government's Menu Rahmah programme.

The afternoon session of the Dewan Rakyat sitting turned rowdy today after Padang Serai MP Azman Nasrudin of Perikatan Nasional questioned the viability of the government's Menu Rahmah initiative given the cost of production and ingredients. 

Azman had asked if the government planned to offer participating vendors assistance to ensure that the programme could be maintained. 
Hulu Langat MP Mohd Sany Hamzan of Pakatan Harapan agreed that the initiative had been proposed without a specific channel of assistance from the government. 

But he warned against voicing opposition to the programme in the same vein as Kapar MP Dr Halimah Ali, who had linked the food provided under Menu Rahmah with a risk of developing cancer and autism. 

Halimah then denied saying such a thing. 

"That is not true, check the Hansard. I never said Menu Rahmah caused cancer," she said. 

Several other MPs from PAS joined in to defend Halimah, saying Sany did not understand the matter under debate. 

The chaos continued for nearly three minutes, until speaker Johari Abdul asked Azman to continue with another topic. 

Azman said parents' main concern at the moment was how to provide meals for their children throughout the four-week school holiday if the government could not lower the price of goods or channel assistance to traders. 

Sany then said that those with large families would do better to cook for themselves instead of spending money on meals from Menu Rahmah. 

"Of course they need to cook, but the price of goods is not controlled," Azman replied. 

Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Salahuddin Ayub previously said that the Menu Rahmah initiative involved no allocations or expenditure from the government. 

Instead, he said it depended entirely on the commitment of traders to voluntarily participate in helping those in need.