Kangkung unrelated to cost of living, says former NST boss

Even if the price of kangkung (water spinach) has fallen, it does not mean the cost of living has decreased, former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin (pic) said.

In his latest blog post, Kadir wondered why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak linked the falling price of kangkung to the cost of living in Malaysia.

"Why does Najib think that Putrajaya deserves to be praised for the falling price of kangkung?" Kadir asked.

Referring to the latest figures from the Department of Statistics, Kadir said food and drinks amounted to about 20.3% of the average monthly household expenditure.

"Of the 20.3% spent on food and drinks, 10% is used to buy vegetables. This means that the average household expenditure on greens comes up to about 2% a month," Kadir said.

"In fact, the percentage might be even lower as not every household will eat only kangkung," he added.

"Therefore, the easy conclusion to draw would be that even if the price of kangkung has fallen, it does not mean that the cost of living has decreased."

Kadir said he had asked an economist friend to ascertain if a cost of living or inflation indicator could be developed around the price of kangkung to create a kangkung index.

After the economist helped Kadir draw up a Kangkung Index to replace the Consumer Price Index, the results indicated that the price of kangkung had indeed dropped by 50% since early 2013.

"However, it is pointless to use kangkung as an example or barometer when households spend a mere 2% of their total monthly expenditure on buying greens," Kadir said.

On a separate issue, Kadir said he was also tempted to join the debate on prominent banker, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak's remembrance of his father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Ever since Najib suggested that the rakyat should appreciate that kangkung price had fallen and praise Putrajaya for it, he has been on the receiving end of various jokes and criticism.

Even the international audience has taken notice of Najib's comments regarding the humble water spinach, with BBC trending the issue.

The latest episode of That Effing Show entitled 'Let Them Eat Kangkung' poked satirical humour at Najib's ill-judged comments about the water spinach and cost of living.

Najib broke his silence on Thursday night, saying that he had only meant to use kangkung as an example. "I like to eat kangkung, you all like to eat kangkung. As such, I only gave an example which everybody eats." "If I use quail as an example, only certain people eat it," he said.

"The example should not be ridiculed by anybody because I gave an example on the principle of supply and demand, which decides the prices of some of the food commodities not subject to price control." – January 18, 2014.


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