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Shops still strong-arming customers on sugar sales despite govt warnings?

Customers say they are still forced to buy premium sugar even if all they want is normal coarse sugar.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
A worker sorts through bags of white sugar at a supermarket in Putrajaya.
A worker sorts through bags of white sugar at a supermarket in Putrajaya.

Some businesses are still forcing the sale of premium sugar for customers looking to purchase coarse sugar despite government warnings against such conditions, MalaysiaNow has learnt. 

Customers who spoke to MalaysiaNow said they had run into such terms at a number of shops in their area. 

A woman called Nur Elisa said it was in fact a condition at nearly every grocery and mini mart around her neighbourhood in Bachok, Kelantan. 

"They force us to buy premium sugar if we want to purchase coarse sugar," she said. 

"At one sundry store, you even need to buy premium sugar if you want to buy packeted cooking oil." 

Packeted cooking oil is sold at the subsidised price of RM2.50 per kg. Coarse sugar meanwhile goes for RM3 while premium sugar is priced at RM4.80.

Acting Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Armizan Mohd Ali previously said that legal action would be taken against such businesses under the Control of Supplies Act 1961 for imposing conditions without approval from the authorities.

"Such a condition cannot be imposed and if it is, please report it to us because businesses are not allowed to do that and we can take necessary action and settle the complaint immediately," he said on Aug 27. 

Nur Elisa said the customers had been told about the condition in writing and again at the checkout counter.  

"If you want to buy a kg of normal sugar, you have to buy a kg of premium sugar," she said. 

Ahmad Ihram Mohd Noor, in Dengkil, Selangor, said at least one of the sundry stores he visited had imposed the condition. 

"I wanted to buy 20 bags wholesale, but they asked me to buy premium sugar," he said. 

"They would only let me buy sugar in small quantities without imposing the condition for premium sugar.

"I hear the same is happening in my hometown of Machang, Kelantan."

Around Dengkil, he said, shops had begun setting quotas for purchases and limiting customers to two to five bags each. 

Ice-cream seller Syefry Moniz said it was becoming increasingly difficult to get sugar stocks at supermarkets. 

"Wholesalers used to ration sugar sales, so I went to the supermarkets instead. 

"Now, there is no regular coarse sugar at the supermarket, but the wholesalers do not allow me to buy sugar in large bags." 

Syefry said many markets were now selling premium sugar and brown sugar which is more expensive than normal sugar. 

He said he wanted to avoid buying the more expensive types as this would increase his production costs.