“Do as I say….”

6 05 2008

There is an old English saying that goes “Do as I say and not as I do”. This saying takes a jab at hypocrites who say one thing but does the exact opposite. They do this in the firm belief that their audience will follow their words blindly and not dissect it for what it is.

In a recent newspaper article, the Malaysian Agriculture and Agro based MInister Datuk Mustapa Mohamad was quoted saying “Each adult Malaysian consumes a per capita average of 77kg of rice per annum so there is room for a reduction by substituting it with a greater intake of vegetables and an emphasis on a health-conscious diet”. You can read the full article in the Star newspaper on the 27th of April 2008.

Mr Minister, rice is a staple food for not only Malaysians but more than one fifth of the world population. By it’s very definition, Staple Food forms the basis of a daily diet and is the major source of energy in that deitary plan. Be it rice, flour or maize (corn), staple foods is the cheaper alternative to eating protein rich foods such as fish, meat or vegetables. To many in the poorer segment of society it is a filler for a stomach bereft of anything else but the staple food itself. It is therefore highly hypocritical (for one who can afford it) to suggest that Malaysians should eat less rice and replace it with vegetables. Mr Minister, don’t you think that these people who are now hard pressed to buy even the basic food would like to afford a more protein based diet? Have you checked the price of vegetables lately?

In Mexico, the price of the tortilla has steadily increased in the last few months. Tortillas are made of maize or wheat flour. For the poor in Mexico, the tortilla makes up half their dietary needs. The government there is trying hard to control this basic food price but I do not think the government there would dare suggest that it’s people eat less tortilla. For there is a saying that goes “When the prices of Tortilla go up, governments come down”.

Malaysia once used to be an exporter of rice until it was decided that Industry and Technology rather than Agriculture would better serve the nation in it’s push to achieve a Developed Nation status. But how developed are we if we cannot even provide for the basic needs of everybody? Is a nation of computer literate, car driving, office dwelling, jet-setting people considered developed? Or is how a Nation feeds and treats it’s people that determine it’s “Developed” status?

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