Higher cost of living – An anecdote


Blog visitor Danny Kua shares with us an anecdote about the higher cost of living and how it could affect the lower income group.

He was sick and went to clinic. The doctor prescribed him down fever and pain-killer tablets. Total cost RM35 (may be RM30 for consultation and RM5 for medicines).

My son works part time 5-hour shift at one fast food outlet earning RM30 (RM6/hour). So yesterday i got to top up RM5 to pay for his bill.

This reminds me of the higher cost of living. Daily earnings may not cover daily expenses anymore.

Sorry doctors, we now go to pharmacy to buy panadols and save for potential 30 per cent hike.

Blog visitor Keith Rozario adds:

The rising cost of living is a problem nearly everywhere in the developing and developed world, what’s important is the income inequality that is becoming more pervasive in Malaysian society.

When I was young, I barely remember seeing a Ferrari or Porsche in my hometown, now you see them everyday on the highway. Yet, most Malaysians struggle to pay their car instalments for their Kancil, let alone dream of owning a car that costs more than most people’s houses.

The ‘dilution’ of the middle class and the creation of the ultra-rich all lead into a death spiral. Rich people, at some point, stop spending money on ‘consumables’ and start investing in ‘assets’. These assets are usually houses and condos that are deemed assets because they rise in price. Hence the creation of the term ‘speculator’.

A speculator isn’t a middle class person; middle class people don’t have money to ‘invest’ in houses. (He or she is more part) of a new class called the rich, and if you’re not in the rich category these days, that just means you’ll be in the poor. Unfortunately, it’s the speculator that’s driving up the cost of living for the poor.

There really are Two Malaysias at the moment.

One group has private security in their G & G homes, goes to private hospitals, sends their children to private schools, and has never set foot onto public transport of any kind.

The other group relies on an overstretched police force for security, can only afford public health care, sends their children to public schools and relies almost exclusively on government infrastructure.

The government isn’t helping; (instead) with its policies that favour employers and corporations, and even reducing the income tax for the richest Malaysians, (that) only serve to widen an already big gap. The reality is that trickle-down economics does not work, and if we intend to close the gap, we’ll need to start taxing the rich more, like introducing na income tax tier of 30-50 per cent.

To what extent are rising property prices and property-led development contributing to the higher cost of living and income inequality?

And to what extent are local wages being suppressed by the policy of taking in cheap and easily exploited migrant workers?

Share with us your own anecdotes.

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I think it is time for the country to start paying livable wage instead of minimum wage. Wages has been stagnant, ringgit value is going down and you got barang naik and never come down again. This combination spell disaster for the country. We are basically creating a bigger pool of poverty class as time progresses and the burden on the country will skyrocket in the process.

It ain’t going to be pretty down the road.

Don Anamalai

‘Livable Wage” has endless possibilities. Those bangla workers working 12-hour shift and share the bedroom on rotation shift – now you know why our City streets are crowded with foreign workers on public holiday as some have to make way. Is this the benchmark used by our policy makers when determine what is enough for the bottom tier of our society? If you are Malaysians, better equip youself with marketable skills to earn a decent living as you can never compete with these imported labors for menial jobs. That is where our Education system has failed despite how deep the… Read more »


Just go to a govt clinic. Only RM1.00.


Anil, let me try to breakdown the ‘cough and cold’ charges for you. This is according to charges approved by various panel insurance and pharmacy.

Medicine for stuffy or runny nose 4-7
Fever 4
Cough syrup 6-8
Antibiotics if needed 14-20

So if your GP charges you 38-40 for the above, the consultation is most likely RM10.

By the way, Penang GP charges are one of the lowest in Malaysia, probably due the high doctor to patient ratio.


Profit margin differs from clinic to clinic/pharmacy and also depend on the type of medicine prescribed. Clinics and pharmacies with multiple branches can normally get better deal because they buy in bulk. Margin is not the only thing. Let me give you an example. A clinic can sell Paracetamol for RM2 with profit of RM1. Theorectically it’s 100% profit, but the profit is only RM1, and unless you can sell a lot, it can be a high margin but not so profitable business.

Smurf Smurf

Medicine for stuffy or runny nose 4-7 Fever 4 Cough syrup 6-8 Antibiotics if needed 14-20 Above are over the counter prices at most pharmacies. For goodness sake, never preach the use of antibiotics with long term side effects more detrimental to the health. 10 tablets of Panadol can get for RM2.50 (but some say pay slightly more like RM3.30 eg at Guardian/Watson for they dare notoffer fake ones). If you go gomen clinics, you practically get them for the RM1 admin fees. For minor illness, the less privileged ones should seek gomen clinics; while the richer ones need to… Read more »


Ever reported but no follow-up detailed study in The Sun about the wholesale middle-men profits of medicines in Bolehland; about the profit margin that inevitably lead to higher cost of generic drugs (the positive ones) prescribed even at government clinics.


Paracetamol of other brands like Milidon at 50 tablets for RM3. Its still the same as Panadol. Panadol is the brand name and its content is paracetamol.


Anil, there is no doubt about it that manufacturing productivity is going up. In most of the private sector, innovation drives productivity. Its a matter of survival. And I agree that some should be paid better. Some businesses do pay better but a lot prefer to bring in cheap foreign labour – especially in the construction and plantation sector. I think these 2 sectors can improve productivity more by introducing machinery or in the case of construction – industrialised building method (prefabricated structures). You have the push and pull syndrome for people looking for work overseas. And the pull factor… Read more »


Hmmm, people keep telling me that
“When your currency is depreciating, cost of living will go up due to lower spending power”
When the RM appreciated from 3.80 to 3.0 per 1USD, the cost of living still seem to go up fast.

Hooi Guan

Easy to blame property price but our nation’s productivity and value add capability have never been increased to enable higher wages for all.


It’s an employers’ market. Even if you work super-productive like a rat, you still get peanuts. And worse if you reach 40+. Knowing the situation, big bosses can pay what they want as long as one rat gives more than his worth of pay check.


You talk too much, the employers will say I can get workers cheaper than you. Myanmar and Bangla waiting in line. understood. ???


Yang, What kind of jobs are you talking about that Myanmar and Bangla can do?
Even the banks are taking advantage of our bank workers who have higher skills than average Bangla.
Those are the kind of jobs with added value that pay peanuts, unless you are talking in SingLand.
Unless of course you are one of the stingy, heartless bosses.


Yang & Tunglang
Myanmar is opening up for foreign investment. Very soon those Burmese will prefer to work in homeland after learning the skills from Bolehland. As for Bangla folks, namewee’s next movie “Banglasia” is satire about the long term plan of them to earn long term living in Bolehland.
Productivity, Meritocracy and Competency should lead to higher wages should the employers are far-sighted rather than to have short term “semua sapu” mentality.


work superproductive than feel like not being rewarded accordingly ?

may be we need to re-examine if what we work so hard for really help the bosses’ KPI. Need to sit down with bosses to discuss about it heart to heart. Nothing wrong once in a while apple-polishing to gain more favourable attention.


I dont know how the 30% hike can be relevant, as most of the GPs in Penang are charging RM10-15 for consultation. I haven’t seen a GP charging RM30 for consultation in Penang yet.

Club41 Oon

Time is really bad for some doctors in private practice. I know a doctor in my hometown who is actually peddling cough mixture at his clinic for the drug addicts.

Ho Siew Kut

Many unethical private doctors that are near retirement age in Malaysia are doing this to get quick return before they close their clinic for good. The risk is quite low to them. Then they can enjoy their retirement traveling round the world with such ill-gotten money.


Anil is now so well versed in the plight of the rakyat facing economic stress. I hope Anil can one day appear on national Tv to talk about it.

I suggest Astro Awani’s In Peron hosted by Lakshmi Baker can invite Anil to reach out to the masses.

Laksmi if you are reading this PLA make the move.


siew yong

The rising cost of living is going to spiral with the GST which will be introduces. The proponents say people will be taxed if they buy those goods and not like now. However, these proponents seem to have forgotten that many don’t pay income tax at all? And with the GST these people [pensioners, low come earners] will be paying taxes, only not income tax! So they are worse off.

bumi non malay

We need to end this SHAM and Denial of inept and incompetence of UMNO-BN + … 40% rakyat supported Regime…..


We dont have a higher cost of living. Its a lie. How many families have cars 30 years ago? The real problem is greed. Those who can wants more, those who can’t rob, steal or complain. Same nature in both cases.


Cars or motorbikes is a necessity for every household these days. In case of emergency, can you walk to hospital ?
People no choice to get motor vehicles even 30 years back.
The point is to live in moderate and find joy in simplicity. Lifestyle (gaya hidup) if too focus on “bergaya” of course nothing can fulfill the desires, the hunger, the urge, the lure of material temptations.


Income inequality is evident everywhere. It has been happening more than just recently. Most people did not notice the income inequalities happening in the 1980s, 1990s and even the first half of 2000s.. Why it has become an issue recently actually is because of inflation in the last nearly a decade. First of basic necessities rose because of rise in commodities prices than even more recently because of asset inflations particularly housing prices. The origin of the problem is failing govt to reform and stick to fiscal discipline and role as regulator but the problem is compounded very heavily by… Read more »

Smurf Smurf

bigjoe99 said The bad news is that if it continues to worsen THEN it will all come crashing down.

Yesterday stock markets across Asia (including KLSE) have experienced “mini-crash”.

If crash do happen, the super rich ones will lose big chunks of investment but can live on comfortably, the rich ones will get burnt and will cut down on lavish “want not need” spending. and the worst will be the poor ones finding life more miserable with daily needs expenses……

Club41 Oon

With the US QE being slowly withdrawn, already the US fund managers are pulling out their money from KLSE as fast as they first moved in, causing the slump in the index. Our Finance Ministry cannot claim credit for the earlier gain as it has nothing to do with the strength of the domestic economy. Do not forget that 50% of the sovereign bond in Malaysia is owned by foreigners who could dictate the path of our economy.


The worst of worst is yet to come. Already we are feeling the effect of recent price increase. With the increase of electricity tariff & oil, removal of subsidies and GST implemented, we will know the true effect of these increase. Stay tune for more hardship coming. Blame yourself for voting in Barang Naik and we shall soon become a Bankrupt nation

Bee Guat

In the months leading to the Umno Assembly, BN will paint rosy picture for rakyat via its controlled media. The 49% will continue to be duped by TV3 and Utusan.

Andrew I

I want my maggie mee – dire straits.


If you are sick, do visit 1Malaysia Clinic as it only cost RM1. Initially I am quite sceptical about it because there isn’t any doctor in attendance, only hospital assistant/medical officer. But after the 1st visit, I found the medicines prescribed are much more effective than local private clinic. The most important point is it cures the illness and without the need to take antibiotic which was the norm prescribed by private clinic.

Chiew Lei

You people in Malaysia are lucky got 1Malaysia clinics. I am a Singaporean and medical cost in Singapore is very high. Next time I may have to go to JB for consultation, hopefully the doctor do not simply charge me just because I am from Singapore.


The most important thing in treating an illness is getting the diagnosis. Medicine is secondary. Most of the time you can recover without medicine or with simple medicine. The important thing is that ‘One’ illness that will kill you, which you need a good doctor to diagnose.

Ah Beng

Stupid anecdote, dont line lah …. Stupid freeloading … will cut the queues at Gomen hospital to obtain free medicine.

Orang Biasa Penang

Oi Beng, U orang kaya, pandai otak untuk gaya-raya!
BinChui ini, BibChui itu. Mesti lu mia akong bagi U banyak harta diatas bukit Gambier. Ini lu mia BinChui dari akong.
Kita orang biasa tak ada BinChui, perlu bantuan kerajaan. Tapi kita tak perlu akong mia harta macam U untuk hidup gaya-raya.

Ho Siew Kut

What a pathetic display of poor Bahasa Malaysia.
It is giving Muhyideen all the excuses to increase the study period of BM in Chinese vernacular school.


The rising cost of living is a problem nearly everywhere in the developing and developed world, what’s important is the income inequality that is becoming more pervasive in Malaysian society. When I was young, I barely remember seeing a Ferrari or Porsche in my hometown, now you see them everyday on the highway. Yet, most Malaysians struggle to pay their car installments for their Kancil, let alone dream of owning a car that cost more than most peoples houses. The ‘dilution’ of the middle class and the creation of the ultra-rich all lead into a death spiral. Rich people, at… Read more »

Smurf Smurf

Keith has raised useful deduction from Danny Kua’s situation. So-called Datuk or YB (Yang Berhormat) should do SWOT analysis (get the likes of USM if LSE is too expensive to engage) and may be the Federal Gomen’s Blue Print for 2014 Budgets truly takes into account serious social economics problem, which if not resolve fast can spring spring many undesirable outcomes.

Smurf Smurf

Keith talked about Ferraris.
Yesterday he local Naza Italia motors announced they expect to sell 52 latest state-of-art Ferraris this year.

Chiew Lei

Malaysians should ask why Rinngit was on par with Singapore Dollar 30 years ago, but now 1 Rinngit can only get no more than 40 Singapore cents.

The plight of MAS vs the successful SIA is a clear indication.

When your currency is depreciating, cost of living will go up due to lower spending power.

Ho Siew Kut

This afternoon I changed S$1000 for RM2545 at the JB money changer.
The cost of my Masala Tosai plus Teh Tarik at the JB’s Little India cost less than a S$1.40 Old Chung Kee curry puff in Singapore!