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Times are hard and advice that comes with it

  • Few days before the price hike, cooking oil suddenly went missing from the shelf, believed to have been hoarded until the new prices came into effect. It was not right, but we could understand why.

By Mohsin Abdullah

A few days before its price hike, cooking oil suddenly went "missing" from the shelf, i.e. you simply can't buy it from the sundry shops, supermarkets or other business premises.

The general belief was that cooking oil was hoarded until the new prices (obviously higher than the current price) came into effect. In short, money was to be made later.

Such an act is not right, to say the least. But, one can understand why it's done.

However, days after the new higher price of cooking oil was introduced, the commodity which many of us depended on to come up with our favourite dishes went "missing" again.

At the time of writing, it was still hard to find cooking oil even at big name supermarkets. Why? I don't know. But it's baffling that cooking oil is not in the market after the new price was implemented

Anyway, just listen to conversation (of the rakyat) at coffee shops, "kenduri", wedding receptions, dinners or anywhere people gather, and you will hear grouses of the "disappearing" cooking oil and, of course, its high price.

Basically, people (a big majority that is) are complaining of the high prices of food, goods, petrol and lots more. In a nutshell, many are struggling to cope up with the current high cost of living.

And what is the response from the powers that be? I won't comment the not clever remarks made by some ministers to sort of justify the current economic woes faced by the rakyat. You get my drift.

Remarks like "cut down on cooking oil for healthy living". There are many more which we know all too well.

But the prime minister had some advice to the rakyat in his Budget speech a few weeks ago. Remember?

Datuk Seri Najib Razak asked the rakyat to tighten their belt, not to be lavish but spend wisely on food.

Wise words and good advice, but the thing is, the prices of food itself are already high. Hence people have no choice but to dig deep into their pockets to buy food.

So the question of lavish or over spending by the rakyat does not arise actually.

Najib in wanting to ease the people's burden also advised the poor to become Uber drivers to earn extra income. The key words are "poor people".

So being poor folks, they do not have cars to be used for Uber in the first place. Logic is: poor people do not have cars.

But the PM in wanting to encourage poor folks to make money via Uber also said in his Budget speech that as incentive, people will be given rebates when buying Proton vehicles to be used for Uber.

The question is: can poor people afford to buy vehicles -- Proton or any other make for that matter, with rebates or no rebates?

Well, before I sign off this time, I'll touch briefly on the speech made by Najib in his capacity as BN chairman when officiating the annual general meeting of a BN component.

Najib asked that the calling of Indians as "pendatang" or the derogatory "keling" be stopped. And he said he himself "did not like" such behaviour.

Some people see his call as an "instruction". Whatever it is, such a call is good and timely. For years our Indian brothers and sisters have been hurt especially when called the "K" word.

But here's the thing. Najib made the call in front of the MIC. Most if not all of them are Indians. Saying stop calling Indians "pendatang" and "keling" in front of Indians is like preaching to the converted.

It would be more meaningful if such a call was made in front of people who like to call the Indians "pendatang" or "keling".

(Mohsin Abdullah is a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)


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