FAR EAST: Malaysia to meet with Thailand, Indonesia on how to stabilise rubber prices

Mustapa said the government is very concerned about the plight of rubber smallholders after the slight drop in rubber prices, although they are still higher than a few years ago.

"In Kelantan some 50,000 rubber smallholders have received government aid of RM500 each, and RM14 million out of the total allocation of RM23 million has been disbursed.

"We should be grateful to the government for its concern through the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda), and although the rubber price has declined a bit, it is still high compared to previously," he said after officiating the presentation of a total of RM9.3 million in dividends to 2,318 smallholders and the launch of the statewide 2013 latex stimulants programme in Machang on 3 Aug. 2013.

Mustapa said even if the discussions with Indonesia and Thailand are fruitful, the government cannot guarantee that the higher rubber price can be maintained as the price will fluctuate with demand.

He said the fall in the rubber price, to between RM3.10 to RM3.55 a kg currently, is due to the low demand from the commodity's major buyers in China, Europe and the United States.

Meanwhile Mustapa rubbished opposition claims that the low rubber price is due to the government's weakness, saying even if the opposition were ruling the country, they would still be unable to control the price.

"Don't be deceived. The government has absolutely no role in raising or lowering the price as the price depends on demand," he said.

Source: "Bernama" (National News Agency of Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur; 3 Aug 2013(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)