Home TA Online 2014 TA Online Happily ever after? Think again

Happily ever after? Think again

Rakyat semakin tertekan dengan hutang

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It is getting increasingly more difficult for couples to tie the knot, given their tight financial circumstances, writes Say No To Zombies in this tongue-in-cheek piece.

household debt 2013

Love is a never-ending series of lightning bolts, zapping hormones into a frenetic frenzy. You are a fizzy drink, bubbling up to the brim, light-headed and giddy. You may even float among the clouds, singing “I think I’ll try defying gravity!”

Then the bubble bursts. The way a housing bubble bursts.

Today, in Malaysia, marriage is truly about defying gravity. You’ll realise that soaring house prices join you on your journey to the moon even as your beloved, who earned a degree but only receives, at most, little more than double the salary of an SPM holder, breaks his pockets to buy you an engagement ring.

Embark on the romantic process of house-hunting and unleash the package of incentives that await you. Discover that as the government proposes measures in its 2015 Budget to help households earning less than RM10,000 monthly to buy homes, even couples who earn just over that mark have trouble paying the 10 per cent deposit.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has announced the titillating Youth Housing Scheme that will waive down payments and subsidise ownership by up to RM10,000 for 20,000 married couples under 40. Statistically speaking, the chances of being one in 20,000 are so mind-blowingly promising they would make any couple squeal with delight. Finding property that is priced lower than RM500,000 would probably be easier since the scheme offers a funding limit for a first house not exceeding RM500,000.

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Malaysia’s consumer price index – which includes subsidised goods – has shot up by an average of 3.3 per cent so far this year, and the government announces, with much glee, that it may increase by 5 per cent next year, nearly triple the 2013 average.

You may now rub your hands together in anticipation for lavish candlelight dates with your fiance, most of which would involve eating roti bakar, yellow mee, kuey teow, laksa or mee hoon, along with kopi and Milo O after the implementation of GST in April 2015. Thank your lucky stars that these are products that are being exempted.

If you ever get diabetes, kidney failure or a heart attack after having indulged in the consumption of such foods of fine luxury, there is no need to sweat the small stuff in life, for an increase to RM6,000 in tax relief for the medical treatment of such diseases will be made available by the Budget.

Having a fairytale beginning that would celebrate your everlasting love for each another would entail bearing the exquisite cost of an average wedding, which may reach the whopping price of RM50,000. Quite a cause to whoop for. In fact, ang pows that are given as gifts by guests may not even be sufficient to compensate for the hefty cost.

Since women are sometimes seen as ‘prized possessions’ and naturally, hence, ‘for sale’ (or at least, that is the way it sometimes appears), the dowry given by the groom’s family to the bride’s could range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of ringgit for Chinese weddings, and RM10,000 to RM18,000 for low to medium-range Malay weddings. Couples usually borrow, on average, between RM30,000 and RM50,000 when they say “I do” to the endless debt of love they owe to each other and to the bank.

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In addition to the jazzy, soulful music one might want to play during the eight-course dinner that will undoubtedly cause major indigestion, not inviting a friend to a wedding is a serious faux pas and may incur a Medusa-like fury. Hence the need for a huge number of guests and the tendency to create the impression, among friends and relatives, that one is being invited to Kim Kardashian’s wedding complete with expensive decorations and entertaining band performances, even though in reality, everyone invited hardly knows anyone else.

Perhaps, after having accumulated such debt, it would be therapeutic to be comforted by the presence of babies. Those plump, fleshy beings that have high-pitched giggles which are deceptively cute but drool, burp and regurgitate come with the price tags of milk, diapers and babysitter fees.

Since few organisations provide nurseries or creches (that sometimes resemble cages?) at the workplace for mothers to fawn over their offspring, the only option available would be day care centres that even charge a monthly fees of up to RM1,200 in Kuala Lumpur. Some domestic worker agencies charge up to RM12,000 per maid for hiring fees alone. This is then accompanied by a series of monthly payments for the worker’s services.

As a friend of mine cleverly commented on Facebook: “They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that is true. But work continues, petrol prices increase and bills arrive.”

So what is the conclusion?

We could all remain single. Then, perhaps, we would have more time on our hands to crash into the gates of UM, debate the possibility of a mass dog execution and study the behaviour of freak weather in Malaysia and how it is connected to dog-petting.

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Say No to Zombies is the pseudonym of a contributor to our Thinking Allowed Online section.

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