Are Foreign Workers Actually Banned From Buying Subsidised Cooking Oil?

The simple answer is no. For a detailed, slightly complex answer, read on.

Cover image via X

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Recently, a video posted on X, formerly Twitter, went viral

In the video, a local man was heard shouting and pointing towards a couple of men at a departmental store, claiming that they were foreign workers and, as such, they could not buy subsidised cooking oil.

The man argued that the oil they intended to buy was subsidised and funded by Malaysian taxpayers. He insisted that the packeted oil was only for Malaysians and told the men to buy bottled oil instead.

"Are you Malaysian? So, why are you taking it? We pay taxes. Do you pay taxes? If you're in Pakistan, you can buy whatever you want. This [subsidised oil] is what Malaysians paid for, our taxes," he yells at them.

The man then forces them to return the packets of cooking oil to the shelf.

Screenshot taken from the video posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Image via @update11111 (X)

This isn't the first time that a video of locals intimidating and preventing foreign workers from buying subsidised cooking oil has gone viral

In January this year, another video posted on social media showed a local man confronting Bangladeshi and Nepali nationals for intending to purchase subsidised cooking oil at a supermarket.

He, too, claimed that the subsidy was exclusively for Malaysian citizens.

"Do you have an identity card? Are you a Malaysian citizen?" he asked, saying the foreigners could face "consequences" if caught.

Outraged netizens suggested that cashiers should avoid scanning subsidised items for foreigners, with several others criticising store management for not having procedures to prevent such cases.

Screenshots from the video posted in January this year.

Image via @encikmimpizz (X)

Such videos keep surfacing every few months and are hotly debated by netizens who insist that foreigners do not have the right to purchase subsidised cooking oil, as it's only meant for Malaysians.

But is that really the case?

The simple answer is no.

There was one case in September last year when the Johor Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (KPDN) director, Lilis Saslinda Pornomo, was quoted by The Star as saying that they took action against a supermarket store after it sold subsidised packets of cooking oil to foreigners.

The action was taken under Regulation 13 of the Supply Control Regulations 1974.

But both Lilis Saslinda and The Star failed to clarify that it was for the non-maintenance of books for the scheduled or subsidised items, and not specifically for selling them to foreigners.


Because there is no restriction on foreigners buying subsidised cooking oil packets, as confirmed by KPDN Minister Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali in January this year.

They actually have the same rights as any ordinary Malaysian when it comes to purchasing subsidised items. This means that similar to Malaysians, foreigners are also subject to the same purchase limits.

With regards to RON95, the law is clear that it's not meant for foreign-registered vehicles. However, a foreigner living and working in Malaysia and owning a Malaysia-registered vehicle can refuel with the subsidised fuel.

These videos often focus on the unequal treatment faced by migrants, particularly when it comes to subsidised goods, ignoring that people from all backgrounds contribute to Malaysia's success.

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