Tackle root causes of rising cost of living

Efforts by the Malaysian government to reduce the inexorable rise in the cost of living must be lauded.

Similar initiatives were attempted by the three short-lived governments led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, between 2018 and 2022. They were not effective.

This is because the past three governments only addressed the symptoms – by giving cash handouts and other temporary measures – but did nothing to address the root causes of the problem.

Thus, the prices of basic necessities continued to increase exponentially, affecting mainly the middle- and lower-income groups. As a result, the size of this income group ballooned because their purchasing power had been reduced.

Hawkers’ fare, which used to be the staple diet of the B40 and the lower-tier M40, has now become expensive to these segments of the population.

For example, a dish of nasi kandar, consisting of a piece of meat, an egg, and some vegetables, will set you back almost RM10, and that’s excluding drinks.

On the other hand, the well-heeled could comfortably indulge in a sumptuous spread of squids, chicken, fish, and meat, that could cost between RM35 and RM60, depending on the size and items of the serving.

The prices of a typical breakfast kuih have gone up between 20 and 50 per cent, while the prices of roti canai and roti telur have skyrocketed to the stratosphere.

Eggs are too expensive to be consumed daily, as we used to. The same for greens and breads.

The standard reason for these price increases have been natural, and man-made calamities like the weather, climate change, wars, and disruptions in the supply chain.

But one cannot help but suspect that profiteering by cartels through hoarding, price control mechanisms, price gouging and manipulation, are the main culprits.

It is often said that politicians, well-connected businessmen, and rent-seekers, have been accorded special privileges by previous governments to import, supply, and distribute these basic commodities.

Such profiteering has benefitted the elite few, at the expense of the poor masses. Unfortunately, this transpired during the reign of those who preached endlessly about the rule of law.

Squandering the nation’s resources through corrupt practices has become systemic in the governance of this country.

Attempts to cleanse the country of this scourge have only barely scratched the surface, thus far.

The present government is attempting to weed out corruption and address the spiralling cost of living. But this only addresses the symptoms, and not the root causes – an insatiable greed for wealth, and an unquenchable thirst for unbridled power.

For these people, the end justifies the means, regardless of the adverse effects on the wellbeing of the people.

Until and unless honest politicians start putting the people’s welfare ahead of their own, the rape of the nation and its people will continue unabated.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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