Seven reasons why Malaysians are struggling to put food on the table


A visit to the local wet market is enough to give you palpitations. Prices of vegetables and fruit have soared, perhaps by as much as a third over the last few years. One news report even said that the price of kangkung rose in December 2013.


The higher prices of basic foodstuff, along with the overall higher cost of living, is a major issue in the Kajang by-election. In an Umcedel survey, 69 per cent of respondents in Kajang reportedly felt that the increasing cost of living would raise support for Pakatan Rakyat.

This may be a fair reflection of sentiment across the country and could favour opposition parties. The soaring price of produce, along with higher property and motor vehicle prices, has emptied the pockets of low-income and even middle-class households. In coffee-shops and private homes, friends and relatives huddle together and grumble about the latest price increases in the local wet market.

Soaring food prices are a symptom of something deeper at work and signals that all is not well with the economy, which is also exposed to global forces.

This article will discuss some possible reasons why people are feeling burdened despite fairly rosy GDP growth figures.

Full article on the Aliran website.

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  1. Food prices are always relative to our standards of living. Food prices have always been beyond the reach of the poor. It has never been any different in times gone by to the present day if thats what the article wishes to convey to its readers.

    Choices are what matter. If people want meat thrice a week then they had better be able to afford to pay for their choice to eat meat. If people wish to eat only vegetable then they ought to choose their vegetables carefully or chose between vendors whose prices differ till they get the one that meets their budgets.

    Where people do not have choice because of monopolies or oligopolies in the food market then there is an issue which government can necessarily intervene to correct. But no one is suggesting that there is either of thee conditions that have arisen giving rise to the notion that “Malaysians are struggling” to “put food on the table”.

  2. The proposed delisting of Bernas would place the country’s food security in the hands Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and harm the Bumiputera involved in the rice industry!

  3. Yes, food price is getting higher.
    But on the other hand, at least 200 tons of good food is throwing away DAILY in Malaysia because

    – looks not appealing

    – Good looking Vege/fruit are selectively put on self, to fetch higher price, in the expense of consumer of the throw away parts

    – Most retails/hawker/pasar store owner REFUSE to sell vege/fruit according to the looks/fresh level. Most cannot afford to put the perishable item into fridge. At the end, small store owner will rather MARK UP THE PRICE of still edible stuff and THROW AWAY those “not good looking” or spoil(refuse to store in fridge due to high cost) perishable food to recover the lost/margin. Few willing to mark down the price to clear it.

    – Malaysia does not practice “Pay as you dump” policies in many place. In every “Pasar”, the thrash of vege/fruit is humongous, that also increase the cost of dumping (which share by everyone).
    Store owner afford to throw away tons of stuff because the real cost is not bare by them.

    – Consumer with landed property no longer growth herbs and vege at home. Most people just imitate USA lifestyle to keep the lawn (wasting water) . E.g., a chili plant is both ornamental and edible, few did that (and people complain chili price going up from time to time).

    – Malaysia is utterly failure in securing local food source (less than 50% ). Government waste billions subsidies money with lack of monitoring on unproductive farms/plantation. Take the heavily subsidies fertilizer and sell to Indonesia/Thailand is common practice in the border. Don’t get me started on “fisherman” smuggles diesel across the Straits.

    – More people are interest on selling agriculture land on speculate price of conversion to residential/industrial. There is no clear policies that gazette land from “converting out” to residential in place that is not suitable for non-agri purpose.

    – Lack of food awareness in school (and also abundance of junk food in school). Growing some vege in school is more than just harvesting efficiency. For many years, Malaysia school education neglect the locality and reality touch. If one didn’t see some real food growing process, they don’t appreciate it.
    How many school really plant the sukon(breadfruit) tree which need little care? Chilli, “kacang botol”,etc can be make as shrub, school children should take care of it than hiring “all in one” worker(janitor+gardener) to work on it as well.

  4. Greed has no limits. It is going to get a lot worse. As we innocently discuss specific grieviances, “democratic” and “advanced” countries are drawing others into a trap. They are holding secret talks on the TPP, a “trade” super-treaty that practically means surrendering national sovreignty. Governments will be prevented from protecting rights or preventing destruction – however glaring – as long as such action may reduce profit for a multi-national. Those who have access to details of the talks include around 660 VIP business persons. Those excluded inlude most legisators, NGOs, etc. Despite protests even in “advanced” countries (in some of which 1/3 of the population is homeless or starving), the talks go on.

    NAFTA was a disaster for the ordinary people of all 3 countries of North America. If this new monstrosity is signed, we might as well hang ourrselves.

    • Sure Najib can buy chicken at RM1.00 just like LGE can buy a Mercedes L for 320k half the price of 600 over k.

  5. The neoliberal system of privatisation that favours Big Business – reducing corporate tax rates for the wealthy, cutting subsidies, and privatisation of essential services – has resulted in higher tariffs that have weighed down on the people. Add to that, a stagnant & repressed salary adds to the woes of the workers & their families. Neoliberal + free market so good & reverent it has no tainted reasons to be managed properly by those in power?
    One thing for sure, corporate interest weights favourably in the mind$et of politicians & political system that promise many things but backtrack to no promises delivered at all post election. Cosmopolitan Penang Frenzy is one of the many skewed visions sold to undiscerning willing souls, some of whom still pander to the thoughts of a better future.

    3 morning joss sticks + one black chicken facing Komtar Tower of Cosmopolitan Frenzy for more surprises.

  6. Many of the people are being misled by the opposition that the BN govt is at fault for the increase in food prices. Actually it is not so. Just a short while ago I was having dinner at a coffee shop and I ask the food stall owner why such a drastic increase in food prices. I told him the govt only increase petrol, electricity and sugar by about 10-20 % but you have increase your food so drastic this time.

    You are still ignorant. Due to the DAP LGE control of property prices shop and residences are now selling from 2-5 millions, So who is going to rent you his shophouse for 1,500. It is now increase by more than double or triple. A shop house now is renting from 3600 – 10k up to 20k. As a result my stall rent which was previously at RM15.00 per day have now increased to almost RM50.00 per day, No thanks to the DAP govt. I have to increase my price by another 10-20%.

    He also told me he is really disillusion with the state govt policy and may not support PR DAP, PKR and PAS. One last thing he told me, DAP is afraid of PAS and PKR. I told him it could not be so because the tokong always said they are equal partner. He said my foot. Only just recently the state govt gazetted enactment 35 that disallowed the use of Allah by non muslim. And he said I shivered the day when hudud will be implemented in Penang since it is now implemented in Kelantan and DAP is keeping quiet.

    • Malaysia’s economy had gone bad (since 1965). The Ringgit was on par with Singapore dollar then. Now Yusof Ishak’s note carries 2.6 times in value compare to Tuanku Abdul Rahman’s. What happened?

      Over the causeway, land and people are abundance. Yet, poor.

      Blame LGE as well?

      Blame cost of property for rising cost of living, ie. state govt?

      If the Ringgit fetches 2.6 Singapore dollar instead, nasi lemak would only cost 50 sen a packet – the economy had been mismanaged for the past 50 years. wake up Malaysians. put useful and intellegent leaders in our govt and kick out the rotten ones, be it from BN or PR.

      Unfortunately for now, while BN had proven to be useless (evidenced by the Ringgit’s weakness, which was 2.5 to USD1 before 1997), PR’s PAS is even more regressive – wanting to put Malaysian back to the caves (evidenced by the absence of development in Kelantan for past 20 years).


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