A supermarket security guard keeping an eye at the milk aisle – Photo by Ganesh
At Christmas, we recall the birth of Jesus in the midst of poverty and oppression. As we party and feast and make merry, it’s worth asking: did he have enough nourishing food as a baby bearing in mind that his parents were humble peasants struggling to make ends meet? Were they able to provide him with a balanced diet during his formative years?
Let’s spare a thought for workers, including factory operators earning RM600 to RM800 per month, who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford milk for their children. Recently, for instance, a woman complained to an activist that a portion of loose powdered milk (it’s cheaper sold in bulk; not in tins) in a sundry shop along Penang Street frequented by those from the lower-income group that used to cost RM7.50 before the petrol price hikes now costs RM10.50.
It’s not surprising that a certain supermarket chain has resorted to putting security tags around baby milk tins/packs. The tags are then removed by the cashier upon when the customer checks out.
Says blog reader pakshah:
If I was a desperate parent, I would be tempted to steal milk too. One pack of full cream milk powder ( 2 kg) costs RM 42. My youngest son consumes more than 4 kg (2 packs) per month. Add 4 tins cereal, it costs more than RM100 to feed him. My pension is only RM 1200.
Could an economic system that allows such a situation to persist be considered just?
Meanwhile, R Ganesh reports from KL:
The proposed privatisation of Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) appears to have not taken into much consideration the basic survival of the poor and the middle class. They would be hit if IJN becomes private. Already, many low-income folk are finding it difficult to cope with high food prices.
Many are now finding that their low wages are insufficient for them to live in dignity given the high cost of living and inflation. The threshold for survival for a family of four is probably in the region of RM2,000 to 3,000. But how many of us actually earn that amount of money?
With reference to your post on the Chicken Thief, what is rather shocking now is that when you go to certain supermarkets, you may now see a security guard in the milk aisle/dairy section. Previously, the guards would be keeping an eye on the liquor section.
The other day, I had the urge to ask the guard why he was guarding the milk section now. His shocking reply was that there had been many thefts. According to this guard, people were now stealing milk instead of other things.
When a society degrades and when people are tempted to steal milk out of sheer desperation, it is a clear sign that that society is in trouble. People do not steal milk for fun or to satisfy their desires or wants. It is an act of survival. Most likely, the milk is used to feed hungry children or babies.
These are early indications that a segment of Malaysian society is being “priced out” of living in Malaysia and some have resorted to stealing basic necessities to survive. A good question here would be – why are people’s remuneration in Malaysia so low and not keeping abreast with the rising cost of living?
Isn’t Malaysia abundant with natural resources? Some say, due to the abundance of natural resources, Malaysia could have been as rich as some Western economies, if not for the plundering, stealing and corruption. Our standards of living would have been much higher with higher remuneration if not for the mismanagement of the economy.
Unfortunately now, certain people have resorted to stealing milk.