Datuk Seri Najib Razak's (pic) kangkung statement has gone international, with the BBC and the Singapore Straits Times reporting that the prime minister has become an object of ridicule for the infamous remark.
The BBC reported that Najib was “widely lampooned” while the ST said the PM has "landed himself in the soup" after he hit back at the people for criticising the government following the increase in the price of goods.
In a video that has gone viral on YouTube, Najib was seen lamenting that the people were ungrateful even though the price of kangkung (water spinach) had gone down.
"With the government under fire because of price hikes in basics like fuel and electricity, he choose to push back by highlighting a reduction in the cost of the leafy green vegetable kangkung," the BBC said in its report yesterday.
It likened Najib's position to British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne who both had used a food analogy to "get down with the people".
"Moments after a video of the prime minister was posted making the comments, the sarcasm and jokes began to trend on social media in Malaysia,” said the BBC.
The "kangkung" statement was met with much derision by the Malaysian public, as was reported in The Malaysian Insider previously.
Netizens took to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to air their frustrations and displeasure with the PM, who was taken to task for being insensitive to the plight of the people following the rising cost of living.
Malaysian comedian Kuah Jenhan tweeted: "While others avoid becoming a laughing stock, we settle for becoming a laughing stalk. Lettuce get to the root of the problem. We have mushroom for improvement."
Social media users have also gone to the trouble of remixing Najib's comments, rewording lyrics of popular local songs, and T-shirts are emblazoned with the words "Keep calm and eat kangkung", the BBC said.
"'Kangkung-gate', as it's been dubbed by some, has hit a nerve because many people are struggling with the rising cost of living, and are resentful of what they regard as corruption, and lavish spending by the government," it added.
The 11% increase in petrol prices, 12% increase in sugar price as well as the hikes in electricity tariff and toll, among others, have caused a domino effect, causing the price of other goods to increase.
However, Najib is not the first to have put his foot in his mouth regarding the rising cost of living.
Previously, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Hassan Malek had called on the people to switch to fish or meat to check the rise in the price of chicken.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, in defending the toll hike, said that motorists could choose to use toll-free roads. – January 15, 2014.