Absurd cost of … everything | Selangor Times
Issue 118


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Absurd cost of … everything
Writer: Patrick Teoh
Published: Fri, 24 Feb 2012

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Along with the perennial, prerequisite hoo-hah that accompanies it.

Which happens annually so that members of some religious groups can have their own brand of excitement celebrating their own brand of chaste, celibate activities. Like snooping and pontificating about this and that sin.

For me Valentine’s Day is a day to reflect on how silly some things have become in this beloved country of ours, Malaysia.  But I think that enough has been said and debated about Valentine’s Day before this so I shall leave it with this one thought which came from a radio listener caller who apparently is heading for a career in stand-up comedy.

He said that although everyone complains about the ridiculous prices of roses and other flowers and also dining out on Valentine’s Day, he is very glad that condoms were still at the same price! Yay! Wait a minute! Shouldn’t someone in some religious department insist that condoms be priced up too? So that it will discourage illicit sex, baby dumping and other immoral fun activities.

Right or not?

Someone screwed up and missed this perfect opportunity to get into the media. Wait! Did I just say ‘screwed’?  Sorry. I didn’t mean to put thoughts of fornication in your minds. Which of course would result in baby-dumping since illegal babies are……well, illegal. Which leads me to this part of the column which is about what I actually started to write about, the rising cost of everything.

There was a time, which now feels like soooooo long ago, when the family and I could afford to spend long holidays at a certain beachside hotel in Batu Ferringhi. Then they decided to “upgrade” and renovate. Now we can no longer afford the almost doubled up prices. (Actually, this has nothing to do with anything but I was upset when I found out and needed to vent it on someone. So I thought you’re as good as anyone. You’re getting the paper for free what!)

There was a time when I could turn on the tap and drink the water. Without having to pass it through an expensive filter. And without having to deflate my wallet for a plastic bottle containing water from someone else’s tap.

And there was actually a time when my monthly salary could comfortably feed and house and clothe my small family. And still have some left over for a few beers and maybe a trip out to watch a movie. With popcorn.

These days I pay much more for what I used to take for granted.  Like water for instance. And now I hear that some flers are charging up to RM1.50 for a glass of water with a meal. And that cup of teh tarik with that shrinking roti canai costs more than it did last year.

And now they tell me that my salary is going to be cut further by the deduction of 10% to go towards a revamped health-care system.

I wasn’t even aware that there was something wrong with our healthcare system to warrant revamping. Did you? But we are on the verge of taking home 10% less money than we used to do. It’s all for our own good they tell us.

So that they can tell us which doctor to see for whatever illness we are suffering from at the time. That is of course assuming that we can survive long enough to get sick and require medical assistance la.

On that 80+% salary that we will be left with to buy rice, books for the kids, water and other essentials that most of the politicians who make rules and laws they do not have to worry about.

I know I might be stretching it a bit la. But there was a time, I think, that I could almost believe most of what my government tells me. That seems to have disappeared too.  

How to believe in transformation this and that when there is a daily struggle to put food on the table? How to believe that there are billions of foreign investments coming into our economy when it takes 30 years to pay off a sub-standard house and nine years to pay off a car whose power windows stop working half a mile out of the showroom?

How to believe that our country is a harmonious, cross-cultural melting pot of happy contented citizens when our government itself openly supports race-based policies?

And finally, how to believe that there is actually anyone managing the affairs of the country when on a daily basis I see photos of the prime minister shaking hands with professionally-posed people, kissing appropriate-looking babies, going on walkabouts in areas full of smiling, contented citizens.

Nothing better to do is sit?.


 Selangor Times



Also by Patrick Teoh:

Quit the wishy-washy themes

few weeks ago my daughter who lives in Singapore sent me the link to a Singapore National Day promo video. 

It has to be bleep, bleep and bleep!

When I first coined the word “Niamah!” a lot of people asked me what it meant. Well, for those of you who don’t speak Cantonese, when spoken aloud the word means your mom.

Malaysia a safe country: The spinning goes on

The morning newspaper had on the front page a story about security in housing estates. How foreign guards are better than local ones. How illegal foreigners are getting jobs as security guards. How if we pay peanuts we get monkeys as security for our family and property.

Those damn illegal parkers

By the time you sit down to read this, the memories of Bersih 3.0 would be more than two weeks old. But I’ll bet that people will still be talking about the rally. Exchanging experiences. Telling some tall tales.

Transforming to what?

Just a few days ago I was driving past the Umno building in Kuala Lumpur. It was raining and the infamous bottle-neck traffic jam in that area of the city was worse than normal. I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic right beside the Umno building.

End of the world?

In just a couple more weeks the Year of the Dragon is going to roll in. For the Chinese flers it is always an extra-auspicious period of the Chinese Lunar calendar. So what we can expect this Chinese New Year is an even more garish display of the colours gold and red in the shopping malls. Actually, the incessant Chinese New Year musak is already playing endlessly. Petaling Street vendors are going to drag on their sales of made-in-China new year “must-haves” until the last minute of the 15th day of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon.

Your right, my right, and all the ‘goreng’

In just a couple of weeks it will be the new year. Yes, 2012. Another year. But as with every new year for the past decade, I would say we Malaysians step rather tentatively into the next 365-day period.

Time to take the wheel

For a very long time now there has been almost complete anarchy on Malaysian roads. There appear to be no laws governing traffic, nor does there appear to be anyone bothered to obey them if there were. I am sure you see, as I do, on a daily basis motorcycles and motorcars ignoring red lights, double lines and stop signs.

Come on, get happy!

The past couple of weeks has been sort of tough. On the old brain I mean. Mine. Having to remember lines from a script that is not exactly Shakespearean quality and having to say them while moving around without knocking into the furniture on stage. Things were so stressful that I missed the big event of the month: the announcement of the Budget by the prime minister!

Manifestoes un-manifest

Last month I attended a fundraising dinner for a political party. For an opposition party la. When have we ever heard of the ruling coalition ever needing to organise a FUND-raising party? No, right? No need what. Fund-giving got la. Especially near elections time. But I digress.

Conditional love…?

JUST a few days ago a friend of mine sent me a Tweet message in which she referred to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as our Conditional Prime Minister. I laughed out loud when I received that. What a wonderfully apt description of the man, I thought.

The Great Clean-Up

For the past week or more the whole of the Klang Valley has been quavering with excitement, fear, anger, frustration and maybe a little despair.People have been arrested. Threats have been issued by both government and normally level-headed Malaysians. Balai Polis stores are bulging at the seams from overstocking of bright yellow t-shirts which everybody wants but cannot have. After all they’re perfectly good shirts. 100% cotton some more.

Harsh realities of this flawed paradise

As we turn the corner and head for the second half of 2011, things sure ain’t looking that hunky-dory. My family and I enjoyed a few days in the remote beaches of Cherating, Pahang. Those four carefree days of rushing waves and gentle breezes and oh-so-calming peace and quiet were elixirs for the much-stressed average Malaysian soul.

Who copied who?

By the time you read this the good folks in the little red dot, Singapore, would have been to the polls and either a) elected the almost all-powerful PAP again as their government of choice, or b) elected a much younger, more change-oriented government from one of the opposition parties like The Workers Party or the Singapore Democratic Party.

He who laughs last…

As I sit down to write this a lot of funny things are happening in my country. Sex scandals. Snap elections threats. Detailed explanations of when a Bribe is not a Bribe but a Gift.











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