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Asia Minute: Malaysia’s inflation challenges and Singapore’s national dish

Jun Seita / Flickr
Jun Seita / Flickr

Inflation has become a global issue — and it’s not just gasoline prices that are rising. The cost of food is heading higher in many parts of the world, and some countries are taking extraordinary measures in response.

It’s been about a week now since Malaysia banned the export of chickens.

The Kuala Lumpur government is the latest in Asia to restrict the export of some food items.

The goal is to drive down domestic prices — or at least keep a lid on them.

Indonesia recently launched a temporary ban on the export of palm oil — a product that shows up in various household items from soap and cosmetics to ice cream.

Palm oil is also used as a cooking oil in developing countries — and that’s where the government wanted to keep domestic prices down.

India has restricted the export of sugar and wheat — also targeting domestic prices.

As for chickens, in normal times, Malaysia exports more than 3.5 million chickens a month.

Many of them are sent live to neighboring Singapore — which according to government figures, imports about a third of its supply of live chickens from Malaysia.

So in Singapore, there’s been a run on fresh chicken — and worries about the impact on Singapore’s unofficial national dish: chicken rice.

Singapore’s Straits Times reports the ban is expected to be temporary — and Malaysia’s government plans to shift government subsidies from farmers directly to lower-income households.

Meanwhile, local media report the price of chicken in Malaysia remains virtually unchanged.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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