Damper on Gawai preparations as live spent chicken off the market under CMCO

Ayam pencen or spent chickens are not sold openly in the central market in this file photo.

SIBU, May 28: Despite being a price-controlled item, it seems that “ayam pencen” or live spent chicken is disallowed from being sold during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period.

Spent chicken is one of the most sought-after items by the Dayak during Gawai to cook ‘ayam pansuh’ (chicken cooked in bamboo). Dayaks working outstation heading back to the longhouse in Kapit and Song for Gawai would usually buy them on their way home.

Every year around this time, Gawai revellers can easily buy live spent chicken at the riverfront, central market and Sungai Merah market.

A check on these places today showed that this chicken was not on sale.

On Wednesday, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi said spent chicken remained as a price-controlled items under the Festive Season Maximum Price Control Scheme (SHMMP) for Gawai Dayak due to the high demand for it.

Chairman of Market and Petty Trader Committee of Sibu Municipal Council, Councillor Albert Tiang when contacted confirmed that live chickens were off from the market.

“The State Disaster Management Committee has imposed a restriction on the selling of animals during this CMCO period until further notice and live chicken is included in the list,” he added.

Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) Rajang Branch chairman, Bill Jugah is perplexed as to why the government is stopping the sale of live chicken during this period as there is no outbreak of chicken flu.

“We only have Covid-19 and this disease is not caused by chicken. Moreover there is no outbreak of chicken flu so why is there the need to stop the selling of live chicken? Is it because the government wants to prevent people from crowding the market to buy chicken that social distancing is not adhered to?” he asked.

Bill said the sale of live chicken, like other businesses such as coffeeshops, should be allowed as the Gawai is just a few days away.

“The government allowed eateries to resume dine-in service by setting SOP (standard operating procedure) for the operators and customers to follow. Similarly, the government can also have SOP for live chicken sellers to abide to so that we will have no problem in buying chicken in the market,” he added.—DayakDaily