The decision by the Education Ministry to stop the free breakfast programme was met with derision by politicians and netizens.
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In September 2021, former education minister Dr Maszlee Malik suggested that the free breakfast programme should be reintroduced in schools nationwide under the 12th Malaysian Plan (12MP) so it can help students and teachers who are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to The Star, the Education Ministry said that the free breakfast programme that was introduced by Maszlee in 2019 during his tenure will not be continued, stating that the present food government programmes were adequate.
Instead, the Ministry will continue with the present food plans for primary school students such as the additional food programme (RMT) with some improvements and the school milk programme which only targets the B40 students.
The free breakfast programme introduced during Maszlee’s tenure targets all students, a point he reiterated on Twitter.
Programme cancellation met with backlash
The decision by the Education Ministry, which was made known in a Parliamentary written reply on 15 November, was met with ridicule online.
The Secretary-General of Socialist Party of Malaysia Sivarajan wrote and pointed how unbelievable that the adults running the country are given breakfast every morning but the children in Malaysia do not get any morsel.
Journalist Norman Goh also tweeted his disappointment that the free breakfast programme which could have served many students was cancelled.
If you participate in most government official meetings, either govn agency, dept or ministry first thing in the morning, you will be given breakfast.— Sivarajan (@ASivarajan) November 16, 2021
But its a NO for our children? @partisosialis https://t.co/R3vdgZknza
In response to Norman Goh, Maszlee said the programme would have benefited 2.7 million children.
Not thousands Man, 2.7 million students, and of course families.— Maszlee Malik 🏴🇲🇾 (@maszlee) November 16, 2021
But this govt and the MOE minister just wont bother 😢
Former Deputy Secretary-General of Keadilan Sharifah Shahidah explained how the new move to go back to the current food programme defeats the purpose to ensure children get nutritious breakfast.
Free bfast was an impt program to ensure children get nutritious breakfast all year long. A lot of families who are affected post-pandemic would benefit from it, w/out barriers or stigma.— Sharifah Shahidah (@imShahidah) November 16, 2021
Going back to current food prog defeats the purpose. https://t.co/uZOwfCn73m
Netizens were equally disappointed with the decision.
A netizen wrote, “Malaysia Family but starve the kids as long as the prime minister has a nice home to go to.” The netizen also pointed out the affluent lifestyles led by these ministers.
Keluarga Malaysia, but starve them kids asalkan PM has nice home to go to, all ministers can travel with style in their Hellfire, and all their friends got high paying job. Kids no food, not their kids, not their problem. But when election, "We are family"….— Eddie LFC 19X🏆 (@lfc_eddie) November 16, 2021
Another netizen, who once benefited from the morning breakfast programme, lamented if only we have a better government that could spend more prudently.
Was once a benefactor of the morning breakfast program too! The milk was tasty as I could recall… a healthy&nutritious breakfast tt a kampung boy or urban poor kids could hardly or ill afford even these days! If only we have a better govt tt could spend more prudently&correctly!— David Wong (@davidwong27) November 16, 2021
The next netizen, who also benefited from the programme, shared his sadness and shared that he remembers how it felt to go to class with an empty stomach.
That is sad . I was once a beneficiary. I know how it felt attending class with an empty stomach.— ng yong kheng (@ykhengng) November 17, 2021