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Despite public appetite for Menu Rahmah, food operators say unsustainable without Putrajaya aid

Publish date: Sat, 13 Apr 2024, 08:25 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — Food operators continued to voice support for the Menu Rahmah initiative to offer consumers affordable meals, with some saying they dropped these after pledged support from the federal government did not materialise.

Speaking to the Malay Mail, two restaurateurs said it was no longer feasible to offer meals at RM5 each without financial assistance, saying rising food costs meant they would have to incur a loss with each sale.

In January 2023, then Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister, the late Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, introduced the Menu Rahmah initiative for restaurants to offer meals at a recommended price of RM5.

Despite initial criticism, the programme was later met with encouraging response from consumers, even those from the middle-income category.

While Salahuddin envisioned the initiative to be sustainable without government funding, it falls under the ministry’s Payung Rahmah initiative that includes Jualan Rahmah programme and the special discount incentive for traders offering Menu Rahmah.

Salleh Othman, who manages Restoran Kampong Cili Padi, said he is ending his Menu Rahmah offering this month. He said food prices have increased too much to continue offering the Menu Rahmah that have been loss-making since he made them available last year.

Salleh said this was exacerbated by his inability to access discounted ingredients promised to Menu Rahmah operators.

“I was offering for a year until this month, when we decided to stop. They (KPDN) said they will give us the discount card and when we went to some places to buy groceries, the outlets said they cannot give us the discount,” said Salleh.

He claimed he visited all of the participating supermarkets and hypermarkets listed in the special discount card for restaurateurs offering Menu Rahmah, only to be told privilege was no longer valid.

“If the price of things are the same as last year, we can still give (Menu Rahmah), but now, with everything having increased or on the rise, we cannot offer it.

In a recent interview with Malay Mail, Deputy Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Fuziah Salleh said the decline in food operators offering Menu Rahmah meals was due to low awareness among businesses.

She said the discount card would help ensure they did not have to incur a loss as a result of Menu Rahmah offerings.

However, Salleh said the lack of awareness appeared to be with the supermarkets and hypermarkets, which he insisted were not honouring the discount cards.

“The feedback we got from the cashiers at the counter is that they don’t participate in the Rahmah initiative,” Salleh, who has been in the food and beverage business since 2018, added.

Like many of his peers, Salleh said he took up the Menu Rahmah initiative to do his part for fellow Malaysians, adding that the popularity of the scheme showed how badly it was needed by low- to middle-income earners.

Despite this, he said it was not financially sustainable to continue participating without the promised discounts.

“If there will be special Rahmah prices for restaurant owners, then we can consider offering again,” he added.

During the launch last year, Salahuddin had said around 12,000 premises were participating, including restaurants affiliated with the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas), the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma), Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association (MCSPGA), and Mydin supermarket outlets nationwide.

However, an informal survey by Malay Mail found that Menu Rahmah offerings were no longer commonplace, leaving consumers wondering what has become of the popular scheme to help them fend with rising costs.

Another restaurant operator, who asked to be identified only as Sahul, also said he was dropping out of the initiative.

Sahul, who owns the Makan Channel “mamak” restaurant in Petaling Jaya, also claimed he had been offering affordable meals even before the Menu Rahmah was launched, going as far back as the first movement control order (MCO) at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are no longer offering it now. Prices have increased and we cannot afford to give such meals anymore.

“Prices of essentials like meat and poultry have increased and it is hard financially,” he told Malay Mail.

Unlike Salleh, however, Sahul appeared to be among the food operators that Fuziah said lacked awareness about the Menu Rahmah initiatives, including the special discount incentive cards.

“I do not know of such a card,” he added.

This was also the case with Ishaq Qin, who runs two stalls at a food court inside the Mydin Hypermarket in Subang: Chinese Muslim Food and Nasi Campur Selera Kampung.

“I don’t know about the discount card,” Qin said when asked about his expenditure and if he knew about the special discount card available for restaurant owners offering Menu Rahmah.

Ishaq said his food bill was around RM5,000 monthly, from which he made “very little” profit but enough for his requirements.

Despite saying he did not receive any discounts for his Menu Rahmah meals, Ishaq said he would continue offering these as it was important for low-income earners.

He has been in the food business for 15 years, adding that he would occasionally give free food when approached by those in need.

“Most of my customers come on weekends and it is mostly Mydin staff. This initiative needs to continue. I see it as charity,” he said.

Be the first to like this. Showing 7 of 7 comments


Nothing is forever la.

1 month ago


makan ubi kayu gomen said

1 month ago


Ah Jib Kor gomen makan kangkung ma

1 month ago


next gomen, minum air suam aja

1 month ago


No, got taugeh

1 month ago


Spiraling downward: From kangkung to ubi kayu to taugeh

1 month ago


Basic makan still need Putrajaya Aid meh ??

Surely no need mah!

1 month ago

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