Title: Current economy vs. cost of living for Malaysians and marginalized groups
Date: 14-Sep-2008

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for June rose to a 27-year high of 7.7%. This figure is slightly more than double the May CPI of 3.8%. The 7.7% is also the highest since April 1981 when the CPI was recorded at 10.8%. The substantial rise in the price of petrol and diesel announced by the Government beginning 5 June 2008 is the main reason for the surge, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad. He said the inflation would probably remain at 7.7% for July because it would see the impact of increase in the electricity tariff. 

The Star, 24 July 2008 

The following was reported on The Sunday Star, 22 June 2008; in relation to price hike on 5 June 2008; 

• Kuala Lumpur City Hall recorded a drop of almost 12,000 cars entering the city daily a week after the fuel price hike; 

• Queues at LRT stations are getting longer and car parks are bursting at the seams; 

• A bus company in Putrajaya has recorded a 10% increase in the number of passengers; 

• Daily traffic volume on the Penang Bridge has dropped by 7% from the previous daily volume of 67,000 vehicles; 

• Sales of motorcycles have increased by up to 25%. Demand is higher than supply now; 

• And more women are buying scooters. 

The cost of living, social issues, the crime rate and illegal immigrants – these are the issues that matter most to Malaysians, according to a survey conducted ahead of the general election. 

How are Malaysians, especially the lower income group, coping with the country’s worst inflation in 10 years (Business Times, 6 June 2008)? Consider this, how is it possible to live with an income less than RM500 per
month, followed by the increase of house rental and other price hikes that hit a low income household. 

On the streets and in homes, skyrocketing prices are shaping up into a terrible nightmare that is eating into their home income, their savings and their lifestyle. Hardly a week passes without news of one price rise or another, with each increase seemingly begetting another. Rice and petrol prices at the pump – as well as the cost of driving on the road – have gone up beyond recognition. I often wonder how the unfortunate are going to keep up with these extra costs of living. 

Recently, we did a home visitation in Kampung Baiduri. Mr. Muthu* and wife have 3 daughters aged 12 to 20 years old. He is paralyzed and is blind; his wife is needed in the home to look after him and the younger daughter. The eldest daughter is the sole breadwinner in the family of five with income of RM500 per month. 

The words of a song by Evie Tornquist, “The good things that you got”. For the good things that you’ve got are for many just a dream. So be thankful for the good things that you’ve got. 

In this song it talks about people who are without a leg and we complain about our shoes. People without a home and we complain about our house and how small it is. 

There is another song by Phil Collins, “Another day in paradise” and it talks about us having a home to live in but to a street child who moves from place to place – to her living in a safe place is paradise. 

We need to be thankful always for things that we have. Sometimes we take for granted. We need to be thankful for good health, family and friends and of course the simple things in life. 

(*All names in the stories have been changed to protect the identities of victims and their families.)


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