Is the NTUC Fairprice outlet at Bukit Batok locking up shelves of its infant formula milk powder to prevent possibly financially-strapped parents from stealing them for their hungry babies at home?
No such thing stated Minister for Parliament (MP) Murali Pillai.
On Thursday (Jan 19), the MP for the Bukit Batok single-member constituency came out to clarify that the supermarket chain’s new trial scheme at its Bukit Batok outlet is targeted at shoplifters who resell these products, and not those who might really need them.
Appearing alongside a FairPrice staff member in his Facebook livestream, Pillai, 55, indicated that news on the initiative published by The Straits Times that same day had given people a “misleading impression”.
“The article, I’m told, highlighted that infant milk powder is being kept under lock and key to stop them from being stolen,” he stated.
A check on the online article on Friday showed the headline to be “Bukit Batok NTUC FairPrice outlet locks up baby formula milk in trial to deter shoplifting”.
The news had also generated buzz online, with a 17-page long discussion on online forum Hardware Zone, debating the misinterpreted notion and the subsequent clarification.
‘People who steal to make a profit’
“Unfortunately, because of the sensational nature of the title, some people, understandably, are getting the impression that there are people out there who can’t even afford milk powder for their children,” said Pillai.
He shared that he’d clarified with the police that “that’s not the case”.
He went on to explain that the “typical shoplifter” that FairPrice is concerned about, are “people who steal to make a profit” and not families with young children.
During the livestream, Pillai commented that as a result of the article, many Bukit Batok residents had reached out to him on the issue, offering to purchase milk powder for possibly needy families in the area.
Help schemes for needy families available
Touching on programmes available to assist low income families, Pillai noted that there are several “help schemes” for needy families in Bukit Batok — including one where low-income residents can purchase milk powder at discounted prices.
Towards the end of the livestream, Pillai stated: “I hope the misleading impressions can stop because otherwise what will happen is that people who are doing good work will be thwarted.”
According to an interview with Lianhe Zaobao on Thursday, Pillai shared that upon learning about residents’ concerns, he immediately contacted both FairPrice as well as the police to understand the situation.
He started the livestream as he felt that members of the public as well as Bukit Batok residents needed to know the truth, reported Lianhe Zaobao.
According to the Chinese daily, Pillai emphasised that there are no residents in Bukit Batok who are not able to buy milk powder due to financial difficulty.
He also expressed how he was heartened by the community spirit shown by residents who offered their help without hesitation.