Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli has linked the financial problems faced by Malaysians to their "addiction" to eating out, saying this is why they have a tight disposable income.
"In other countries, eating out is seen as a leisure thing. You spend a lot more buying raw materials, cooking them, and eating them; every now and then, you go out (to eat)," he told pro-government news portal Malaysiakini.
Rafizi then laid the blame on "past policies" for shifting away from agriculture as well as poor public transportation, which he said forced households to survive on buying meals.
"It is also about the time people spend travelling to and for work and how much time they have when they return from work to prepare food.
"So these are all the things that I think are the unintended consequences of many policies of the past," he was quoted as saying.
This is Rafizi's second comment on the personal spending habits of Malaysians, after his statement late last year in the wake of the rising prices of chickens.
"By right, when the price of chicken increases, people should avoid buying chicken," Rafizi had said, sparking public outrage and memes on social media.
His latest comment on eating out came as Malaysia faces a hike in the price of rice following a market shortage of the staple good.
The shortage was triggered after national padi firm Padiberas Nasional, or Bernas, increased the price of imported white rice by 36% on Sept 1, leading to a surge in demand for the cheaper local white rice.
The government subsequently imposed a limit of 10 bags for 10kg of the staple, amounting to a total of 100kg per customer.
The government's handling of the latest crisis sparked criticism from prominent retailer Ameer Ali Mydin.
"It is havoc out there. The government somehow repeats the same mistakes. Somehow this government has not learnt," the Mydin hypermarket boss recently told business station BFM.