PETALING JAYA: DAP MP Tony Pua today took Abdul Rahman Dahlan to task for his remarks on Malaysians’ spending power, saying the minister’s “dismissive attitude” shows that the government is out of touch with the people’s daily struggles.
Rahman had earlier this week dismissed comments by Mydin managing director Ameer Ali Mydin, who said hypermarket sales had been declining and that consumers did not appear to have enough to spend on groceries.
Claiming that the hypermarket boss was wrong, Rahman said a country’s economic condition could not be measured by one sub-sector alone.
He said private consumption continued to be the biggest contributor to Malaysia’s economy, at 53.2% or RM589.7 billion of gross domestic product (GDP).
He also pointed to domestic tourist expenditure, which he said had risen to RM74.8 billion in 2016 from RM67.7 billion in 2015.
“Malaysian tourists spent RM33.5 billion abroad in 2016, an increase from RM31.1 billion in 2015 despite the depreciating ringgit during the said period,” he added.
However, Pua slammed Rahman’s comments, asking where the minister expected Malaysians to buy their everyday groceries if even low-priced hypermarkets like Mydin were facing weakened consumer demand.
“Does he think Malaysians are going abroad to do their groceries?
“The government should not be flaunting the spending statistics of Malaysians who can afford to travel abroad as proof that all Malaysians are better.
“Worse, it should not be dismissing the very real and loud complaints of average Malaysians who struggle to even afford their daily groceries,” he said in a statement.
Pua, who is Petaling Jaya Utara MP, said inflation last year reached its highest level in years, averaging 3.7%.
Food and non-alcoholic beverages alone saw an increase of 4% in 2017.
“Regardless of whether someone is shopping in a hypermarket or a pasar tani, these price increases are present everywhere.
“Malaysians deserves a government that looks out for the interest of all Malaysians and does not dismiss the real issues being faced everyday,” he said.