Never mind the rise in electricity tariffs, toll rates, and satellite television subscriptions, many Malaysians are grumbling every time they go to the market and stores because of the soaring prices of fruit and vegetables.
(Thanks to blog visitor Radhi for the video link.)
To make matters worse, Malaysia relies heavily on imported food, as our own fertile agriculture land is gobbled up for speculative property development and cash crop plantations. Penang, for instance, has lost many of its farms and orchards, in places such as Tanjung Tokong and Balik Pulau.
The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, noted recently:
Palm oil dominates the agricultural landscape in Malaysia, occupying 5 million hectares – more than 70 per cent of the country’s arable land. Malaysia produces 39 per cent of global palm oil and accounts for 44 per cent of global exports. However, the growing sector has generated environmental concern due to deforestation, biodiversity loss and soil nutrient depletion.
The Special Rapporteur warned that the focus on export-led commodity production makes the country highly vulnerable to price shocks on international markets, as the country depends on imports for basic foodstuffs, including 30 per cent of rice, Malaysia’s main staple crop, 66 per cent of fruits, and 41 per cent of vegetables.
Higher food prices are being manifested in various subtle ways. Someone told me that a particular brand of sardines used to contain four sardines in a can, but now the same can contains just three.
Or a packet of salt may contain less than before.
Noodles including char koay teow at many places are now served on plates barely larger than saucers, as serving sizes have grown shrivelled. If we are observant, we may even notice our roti canai being ‘downsized’ before our very eyes. And honey, they’ve shrunk the thosai!
At the market, many customers are often heard grumbling over the price hikes.
Given the rising cost of living, growing indebtedness, depressed wages and low pensions, the vulnerable, the sick, and the working poor are finding it difficult to cope. Unfortunately, our social welfare and support services are in many cases inadequate, our general hospitals underfunded and overstretched while public funds are frittered away.
In Singapore, the working poor are also feeling the strain.
(Thanks to blog visitor Don Anamalai for the link.)
These are difficult times indeed. And all this happening befor GST piles more misery on the people.