KUALA KANGSAR: Vendors at a night market here complain that business isn’t as good as it used to be and they blame not only rising prices but also the dwindling population of this royal town.
“Business is getting harder because many youngsters move out of Kuala Kangsar to secure jobs,” fruit seller Alvin told FMT.
“There aren’t any big factories any more. Many have moved overseas.”
Alvin could push 10 boxes of apples a day several years ago, but now sells only six on average.
He said he could still earn between RM3,000 and RM4,000 a month, but recalled with a sigh that times had been better.
“Whoever becomes the MP, I want him or her to think of ways to draw more people to Kuala Kangsar or at least get locals to stay,” he said. “At the rate we’re going, we’ll run out of young people before long, and that’s bad for business.”
The Highland Park night market opens only on Monday, but those who trade there usually do business in the mornings in other parts of town.
A hawker who called himself Ali said one could argue that the cost of living in Kuala Kangsar was still low compared to the situation in big cities, but he added that one could still feel the pinch.
“I’ve been in business for 15 years, and I do notice that business has been shrinking little by little every year,” he said.
Ali cooks a variety of dishes and packs them for his customers to take home. He recalled a time when it was usual for a customer to buy four or five packs. Nowadays, he said, the most he could sell to a customer would be three.
“I think people are spending more on necessities and saving up because salaries haven’t gone up although the prices of goods have.”
He said he wasn’t a supporter of any political party and didn’t care which one wins in the coming polls.
“All I want is for the government of the day to bring down the cost of living so that people will have more money to spend.”
The battle for Kuala Kangsar will be between BN’s Mastura Yazid, Amanah’s Ahmad Termizi Ramli and PAS’ Khalil Idham Lim Abdullah.
Down the road from Alviv was Liu, who seemed to attract plenty of customers for his home-cooked food.
But he said business used to be much better. Nowadays, he said, his profit was less than RM2,000 a month.
Asked for his thoughts on politics, he said: “I’m not really concerned over local issues or even the GST. My concern is the national debt.”
He said he didn’t find it too difficult to adjust to the cost of living despite his unimpressive monthly profit. “But I fear for the younger generation. They are the ones who will bear the burden of the national debt.”
Malaysia’s debt stood at RM687.43 billion in September 2017.