Najib’s by now famous kangkung speech is the latest sign that the burden on the rakyat of rising food prices cannot be ignored by political leaders any longer.
Najib was quoted as saying:
There are times when the price of vegetables, sawi (mustard green) and kangkung goes up and there are times it comes down.
I read in the newspaper that some prices have come down. Kangkung price once went up and now it is down.
When the prices come down, why are there no praises for the government? When it goes up, the government gets the blame.
This is unfair because (such issues are determined by) the weather conditions.
Najib’s speech has moved the headlines back to the rising food prices which for a while had been – and some believe, intentionally – dislodged by the flurry of protests over the Allah controversy immediately after the Barang Naik rally on New Year’s Eve, which was attended by some 10000 people.
The Allah controversy has not stopped though: now Abim’s secretary-general has jumped into the fray with his own contribution to the debate.
While all these learned folks fall over themselves arguing over how we should refer to the divine – and in the process, religious freedom is infringed, the rakyat are having a tough time coping with rising food prices.
Why are food prices rising?
- Property development and cash-crop plantation have gobbled up land, farms and orchards that could have been used to boost food production.
- We are now heavily dependent on Cameron Highlands for our vegetable supply. Limited domestic sources of supply combined with rising public demand = higher vegetable prices.
- We are also heavily dependent on fruit and vegetable imports from USA, China, Australia, South Africa, India and Spain. The further away the source of supply, the more vulnerable we are to transport and fuel costs. In the case of food imports, we are also exposed to forex rates, supply constraints in the source countries, and changing global weather patterns.
- The burden is exacerbated by the relatively low incomes of many Malaysians, many of them are increasingly indebted and are unable to cope with the overall higher cost of living.
Just a thought: Do they serve kangkung on private jet planes?