A group of about 100 farmers and fishermen gathered outside Parliament today to highlight local food production and food security issues.

In their prepared memorandum, they called for the government to recognise land used for food production as sensitive land to maintain food security.

The group was joined by Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members.

PSM chairperson Dr Michael Jeyakumar, who was in attendance, said they were calling for Parliament to pass a resolution to facilitate food distribution in the country.

“Especially during these trying times, don’t halt them, allow them to distribute food.

“Farmers in Perak were made outcasts and fishermen in Penang are threatened with sea pollution, which would destroy their source of income.

“This would eventually cause difficulties to distribute food to the rakyat,” he said.

Present to receive the memorandum from the group were Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar, and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim.

Hassan said there must be an importance placed on food security as it is a basic human right.

“As a member of the Fundamental Rights Committee, handpicked by the government, this is an issue that I take very seriously.

“Food security is also a basic human right and I hope that the issue brought forth today will be discussed in Parliament,” said he said.

Most land for palm oil

Sim talked about how Malaysia has vast amounts of land for farming, however, its usage left a lot to be desired.

“Malaysia has 8 million hectares of land for farming, with 6 million of it being used for the planting of oil palm trees, 1 million hectares of rubber plantations, and only 1 million hectares for (food) farmers.

“This is an imbalanced method which has led to the downturn in the distribution of food.

“Hence, it is important to restore this balance and ensure that our farmers will get land easier and ensure food security in the country,” said Sim, who is a former deputy minister for agriculture and agro-based industry.

Mahfuz called for the people to exercise their democratic right to gather and call for better food security in the country.

“It is a sure fact that everyone’s attendance here today has shown that the power of the people will be the main reason that our food security can be reinforced,” he said.