From Andrew Seah
Like every other Malaysian, I am equally affected by the high price of goods these days and the increase in the cost of living.
However, there are certain observations I would like to share with others which I have personally experienced.
I come from a technical background and due to the nature of my work, I need to travel regularly to neighbouring countries for routine maintenance work which my company is engaged in.
When I am not travelling, I spend most of my time in my office in front of a computer.
With a non-working wife and three children to support, what I earn just about cuts it with little left for savings.
My family and I have taken all measures possible to reduce our expenses, including bringing home-cooked food to the office and school.
I am a coffee lover and easily drink up to four cups a day. This, I would say, is an expensive habit – though not as costly as cigarettes – but something which could even go up to RM50 a day – depending on the coffee you drink.
Of course, many of my colleagues are constantly complaining that they are broke by mid-month. Well, why wouldn’t they be, if they keep ordering in coffee twice a day along with snacks from Starbucks and Coffee Bean through food delivery apps like Food Panda and Grab.
If there is one thing that Malaysians are good at, it is to complain. People here are compulsive complainers, especially against anything that the government is doing.
As mentioned, I travel a lot and it is clear that what Malaysia is experiencing now is a global phenomenon and something that is totally beyond the control of any government.
The prices of essentials are shooting up in every corner of the world. However, the one thing Malaysians do not realise, or simply don’t want to acknowledge, is that our prices are cheaper compared with any of our neighbouring countries.
For example, Indonesia is the number one producer of palm oil in the world, yet cooking oil is more expensive there than in Malaysia.
Let’s not even go into the price of chicken. For most families in neighbouring nations, save for Singapore and Brunei, enjoying a chicken meal with the family is a luxury – something like going to KFC here about 45 years ago when I was a kid.
I am not trying to defend anyone, but this is a reality which many of us simply refuse to accept.
We do not look at the glass as half full, but always half empty. If not for our subsidies, our inflation would have blown off the roof and there would probably be chaos in the country.
From what I read, the government is spending close to RM80 billion on subsidies which is an alarming figure at a time like this.
Why Starbucks and Coffee Bean?
Coming back to my earlier topic about coffee. It is no wonder many of us are constantly complaining about not having enough money.
To me, it is not only about how much one earns, but also how one lives their life. What is wrong with drinking coffee which can be easily made using coffee bags and milk?
Of course, if you order coffee online a few times a day, it is going to cost you a fortune. And when you run out of money, what else . . . blame the government again.
As far as I am concerned, the government is doing all it can at a time when most other countries have their hands tied.
Despite the ongoing global economic crisis, the Russia-Ukraine war, and uncertain weather conditions, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is keeping his cool and running his administration well.
Also, despite all the criticism and often rude statements hurled against him, he remains focused and determined to do his best.
Malaysians ‘mudah lupa’
One thing I have always asked those who like to engage in a political discourse with me is this, if not for Ismail, then who?
When I ask them this question, everyone becomes quiet. Simply because there is no one else capable of helming the top post now, neither does anyone else have the required support.
There are numerous loud-mouth politicians out there who constantly shoot their mouths off, including those with a string of court cases behind them. We should not be taken up by them.
Before we go around blaming every little thing on the government, look around. Evaluate for ourselves the situation around us and ask, what else do we expect the government to do.
The government cannot control the prices of everything in the market as it is determined by numerous factors beyond their control.
We cannot keep on blaming everyone else for every shortcoming we face in life. From my personal experience, we are in a much better situation in terms of access to food, healthcare, education and even transport compared with those in many other countries.
The government is doing its best and we should also play our part so we can make it through these hard times together.
Andrew Seah is an FMT Reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.