[Documents menu]documents menu
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 11:34:57 +0800
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
From: Lynn August Linse <linsela@ROBUSTDC.COM>
Subject: FWD: IN: Indonesians panic buying of food

Indonesians go on panic buying of food items

By Susan Sim, Indonesian Correspondent,
Singapore Press Holdings
9 January 1998

JAKARTA -- Many supermarkets and grocery stalls here ran out of essential food items yesterday as panic-stricken residents rushed out to stockpile on supplies, driven by a myriad of rumours and fears that shortage would send prices skyrocketing.

Shoppers began grabbing rice, cooking oil, flour, sugar, milk and even cartons of instant noodles off shelves from 10 in the morning, stall-keepers and supermarket staff told The Straits Times during a random telephone check of shops throughout the city.

The buying frenzy sent prices soaring by 25 to 47 per cent at local convenience stalls as traders raised prices.

The price of cooking oil, they said, almost doubled from 3,400 rupiah (about 75 cents) per kg to 5,000 rupiah within hours. Rice prices charged up 37 per cent from 1,600 rupiah per kg to 2,200 rupiah.

The bigger chain stores did not raise prices, but when supplies ran out, some decided not to re-stock so they could reprice the items for the next day, staff said.

"Many of the small shops closed at 1 pm when we had nothing else to sell," Mr Arif Dada, a grocery storeowner in Pasar Slipi, said. "We were afraid there might be trouble or demonstrations if people think we might not open again tomorrow."

In an effort to calm fears of food shortage and prevent a repeat of yesterday's rush, state television ran, in its evening bulletin, footage of ships off-loading sacks of rice at Tanjong Priok harbour in north Jakarta.

"The social concern on the provision of rice is unreasonable and the stock of the staple food is more than enough and confirmed by the Logistics Bureau, Bulog," a newscaster reported, adding: "The chairman of Bulog Bedi Amang had reiterated that the stock of rice until March totals 1.4 million tonnes." More rice was also being imported, as was sugar, she added.

The initial food run appeared to have been sparked off by rumours that the government would issue new currency and devalue the rupiah even further, as well as by news that the currency had breached the psychological barrier of 10,000 rupiah to the US dollar.

A housewife said she bought 500,000 rupiah worth of food items when she learnt from the Internet that the rupiah had fallen again and that people were buying up food.

Even expatriates caught the fever. The PriceSmart membership store next to the Jakarta Stock Exchange, which is popular with foreign residents and local professionals, was packed with hundreds of people by mid-afternoon.

Despite wild rumours of troop movements and gathering crowds, the city was calm throughout the day. In the late afternoon, the usual traffic gridlock began in downtown Jakarta as offices closed and people went about their usual way. See Pages 48, 86

Copyright =A9 1997 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

Best Regards;
Lynn August Linse, linsela@robustdc.com
Robust DataComm Pte Ltd, 221 Henderson Road #04-10
Singapore 159557, Ph(65)272-2340 Fx(65)272-0582

[World History Archives] [Gateway to World History] [Images from World History] [Hartford Web Publishing]