The ratio of income against the cost of goods in Malaysia is at an unhealthy level, notes a newly elected assemblyman in Sarawak.
KUCHING: Any increase in retail prices, no matter how small, is a heavy burden on the ordinary Malaysian who is already living on an overstretched budget, said newly elected assemblyman Wong King Wei.
Fresh off the ballot box, Wong is not alone in his views as more and more consumers are concerned over rising inflation and how far their salaries will go.
Bank Negara recently said inflation could double to 3.5% this year. Already it is 3%.
For the ordinary man on the street earning RM1,000, a 3.5% inflation would simply mean he would instantaneously see RM35 disappear from his pocket and with no purchases to account for.
And if the inflation rate raises to 5%, he would then lose RM50, which could, if used, translate to a provision list of rice, sugar, oil and onions to last a few days for a family.
Said Wong: “The government cannot keep lying about the situation… removing subsidies will affect the ordinary man everything from travel to eating out and marketing.
“We are not getting value for money spent. The ratio of income and the cost of goods for Malaysians is currently at a very unhealthy level.”
According to Wong, the DAP Padungan rep, the spiralling prices of consumer goods has made Malaysians lose their purchasing power.
“We’re lagging behind many countries now. Even people in Kuala Lumpur who used to have the highest purchasing power compared to other Malaysians are feeling the pinch.
“It’s all there in the 2010 Prices and Wages Report,” he said alluding to the Swiss financial conglomerate UBS AG’s revealing fact that Malaysians are lagging behind their global counterparts in terms of purchase power.
Citing South Korea, Wong said 40 years ago, the republic was on par economically with Malaysia, but today the citizens enjoyed a purchasing power which was 17% higher than Malaysians.
Corruption and cronyism
According to the report, the purchasing power of KL-ites was only 33.8% that of New Yorkers while Londoners have 42% purchase power.
The report noted that although the price of goods in these places were twice that of KL, the purchasing power in Kuala Lumpur was still more than twice lesser.
Blaming the weaker purchasing power on the gap between income earned and cost of goods, Wong said there was a ‘significant disparity’ in wages in Malaysia.
Compounding the situation is the fact that Malaysians had to deal with ‘corruption and cronyism.’
“The economic cake in the country is not evenly and fairly distributed…and this is because of corruption and cronyism.
“The real reason why the government is cutting back on subsidies is because it has no money.
“Last year the Auditor-General’s report noted that corruption, abuse of power and mismanagement had led to Malaysia losing an estimated RM28 billion over the course of the year.” he said
He said abolishing subsidies was the government’s way of diverting public attention from the real issue – corruption.
“The government has no money because of corruption.
“By eliminating cronyism and corruption, we can take a step in the right direction in raising purchasing power and lowering the rate of inflation.
“This will (in turn) ease the burden of the rakyat and raise their standard of living.” he told newsmen recently.