Don’t mock us typical, average Malaysians

The way the government is trying to appease the public with regard to all the price hikes that have been implemented is quite farcical at the least.

Firstly, Malaysians were told that if they did not like the increase in highway toll prices, they could always opt for using different roads that have no tolls.

Then they said if chicken was too expensive for consumption, then eat other sources of protein like fish, which ironically is even more expensive.

Now we have the huge vegetable fiasco that has become an internet phenomenon and also a treasure chest of content for the media.

Right before I started writing this week’s column, I had breakfast with a friend of mine. And over our meal, we had a nice long, conversation about life.

She is just like anyone of us. She has a normal job, a husband, a couple of kids and owns a home in Kuala Lumpur. She’s not a politician or VIP. Just your typical, average Malaysian.

But what if the best that she can provide just isn’t good enough? What if her growing family of four needs more space to live in than a 900 square feet apartment?

What if she needs her husband to accompany her on even the shortest trip to the sundry shop to buy coconut milk because her apartment is located in a high crime area?

And even then, her husband cannot do it because he is busy working six and even seven days a week (and even including most public holidays), just so that they can make ends meet.

And just like any of us, she wants the best that she can provide for her family: the best day care, the best education, the best living conditions, best nutrition and health care.

But what if her youngest baby needs a very dependable and safe day care centre so he is in good hands while she and her husband are at work, and that would be just too unaffordable?

What if her five year old daughter just hates eating water spinach and cries every time she is fed that, and would rather eat the much more nutritious purple spinach.

What if the car she drives seems to have problems all the time, and she has even experienced breakdowns in the middle of the highway with her children crying inside?

There are many problems the typical average Malaysian faces. Cost of living problems are among the ones that are the most burdensome for them.

But as most typical, average Malaysians, they still manage to do what they can, scrape through and survive. It really isn’t a choice. They just have to do it.

I am also very sure that the typical average Malaysians knows full well that inflation and rising costs are things that are inevitable and they will have to face it.

Yes, they have a right to complain and make noise. Yes, they have a right to ask and demand for improvements to their standards of living.

What they do not deserve is a government that is insensitive. They do not deserve a government that, upon responding to their rants, sound more mocking than empathic.

Nobody is asking the government to make populist decisions all the time that would be detrimental to the country, yet bring in the votes.

Give Malaysians more credit than that. The society here is intelligent and can think rationally enough to know what really needs to be done. If prices need to go up, then it needs to go up.

What we are asking is for a government that is considerate and understands its people. Because in actual fact, even those in government should really be typical, average Malaysians. – January 17, 2014.


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