Prices of certain essential items have gone up and become a cause for concern for ordinary Malaysians, particularly the financially strapped, following the economic slowdown post-pandemic.
The Consumers’ Association of Penang, for instance, has raised the alarm about increased prices of vegetables, which are important food items for Malaysians that should not be hiked beyond their reach.
Consumers then had a rude shock recently arising from an announcement about a price hike of a particular brand of bread in the peninsula.
Chicken has also seen its price being inflated, obviously worrying consumers who are already burdened with financial hardship. Some of these consumers have been retrenched, while others have been made to take a pay cut while paying their debts.
That is why Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi felt compelled to deny he had suggested recently to Malaysian consumers to opt for duck while waiting for the government to investigate the increased price of chicken.
A video allegedly showing Linggi stating that consumers should replace chicken with duck has gone viral, hence Linggi’s subsequent public denial.
Obviously, the price hike of chicken, among other things, is something to be taken seriously, and Linggi rightly pointed out that it would have been insensitive if he was to make fun of people in financial difficulties.
Had he resorted to levity, it would be as insensitive as asking starving peasant subjects without bread to eat more expensive cake instead.
In fact, Linggi’s ministry is anticipated to swiftly address the price hike for the sake of ordinary consumers.
People expect the kind of determination that spurred the federal cabinet to spring into action when it was confronted with the recent Timah whisky brouhaha. Four ministers, including Linggi, were speedily enlisted to look into the spirited case.
If one of the causes of the price hike is a shortage of personnel at vegetable farms, then the Ministry of Human Resources ought to be roped in to address the issue.
Other ministries related to the price hike matter should also chip in to ensure faster resolution.
Essential goods that are made expensive would certainly eat into the limited financial resources of low-income households and some from middle-class households – and this would worsen their plight.
Utusan Malaysia reported that the prices of motor vehicle spare parts would be raised by up to 60%, which is equally bad news for consumers who need replacement parts for their vehicles.
Additional expenses incurred by manufacturers and transporters as a result of the spare parts price hike are likely to be passed on to consumers.
Meanwhile, there are still people who raise white flags to request assistance, just so they can survive amid the economic slowdown.
To be sure, this is the kind of worry weighing down on ordinary Malaysians, which has no parallel to the sort of concern expressed by certain political leaders over who should get what after the tenure of prime ministership is over.
The government should urgently look into the price hike issue so that the welfare of members of the so-called Malaysian family, particularly the vulnerable, is well taken care of. – The Malaysian Insight