Apart from worrying about the effects of cuts in subsidies, the lower-income group and even the middle-class are feeling the effects of a sharp rise in fruit and vegetable prices, especially over the last quarter. While Najib waxes eloquent about the New Economic Model, low-income Malaysians are struggling to balance their budgets. Fruit and vegetables that used to cost RM60 a few months ago now cost around RM90. If you paid RM25 for a basket of vegetables a few months ago, you probably would have to fork out around RM45 now. Of course, Cabinet Ministers won’t feel the pinch from higher food prices and cuts in subsidies. But ordinary workers will, as their wages struggle to keep pace with the rising cost of living. (As an aside, we desperately need a move towards organic agriculture to make us more self-sufficient in healthy pesticide-free natural food.) Here’s something I wrote for [Read more]
What do you think of Najib’s New Economic Model? It has taken such a long time for the administration to realise that the present low-wage export-oriented model is not working. The need for a new economic model was pointed out in this blog back in October 2008: One of the larger issues that arises in the face of the global economic slowdown and recession is that the foreign investor-driven, export-oriented economic growth model is clearly not working, especially in times like this when global demand has shrunk. With global stagflation or recession staring at us, capacity is rising and the trickle of foreign investors is drying up. We should be focusing more on building up a strong, resilient, sustainable domestic economy by providing basic services (housing, health care, food security, public transport, education) rather than relying on foreign investors and now, foreign retirees. Is Najib’s new model the solution? There [Read more]
The Penang Development Corporation (PDC) – and even municipal councils – once used to play an admirable role in providing Penangites with affordable housing. Goh Ban Lee recalls in this piece for Seri’s Penang Eonomic Monthly (August 2009) that: The issue of shortage of housing for the poor in Penang is puzzling. As early as in 1950s, even before the country achieved independence from Britain, there were efforts by the government to help the lower income groups to have adequate shelter. More specifically, George Town’s Municipal Council which eventually evolved into the Penang Island Municipal Council of today began building quarters for its lower paid workers as early as 1946. Two years later, it also built low-cost houses for sale to the public at $2,775 each (Penang – Past and Present, 1966:86). It then went on to build many housing units to be rented to the poor, such as those [Read more]
He’s out of office but he still manages to do some pretty dumb things. Bush wipes his hand on Clinton’s shirt after shaking hands with a local during a recent trip to Haiti. Moral of the story: In this Internet age, politicians had better be prepared for intense scrutiny of their every public action.
If you haven’t, it is time you got acquainted with the man: Aneurin Bevan was the Minister of Health in post-war Britain who played a key role in setting up the National Health Service. It was Bevan who uttered these immortal words: “The collective principle asserts that… no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.” Which means health care is not a commodity but a basic right that should be made available and accessible to all. It also means we need a top-class public health care system with adequate funding. That was what the speakers at a Sembang-Sembang talk this afternoon, Dr Jeyakumar and Dr Jayabalan, stressed. Many among the audience at the Caring Society Complex in Penang were moved when they heard a woman, Roszita, describing how she lost her husband, Ahmad Nazri, 49, a heart patient, because [Read more]