Harsh realities of this flawed paradise
Writer: Patrick Teoh
Published: Fri, 10 Jun 2011
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.
But those few days of no internet, newspapers and urban Malaysian stress merely served also to hide the harsh realities of life in this flawed paradise. We returned home to Petaling Jaya to the stark reality that life will never be the same again.
A little overdramatic, you say? Well, maybe it is, but think about it. Life in Malaysia has changed dramatically in the last year or so. And the latest announcement of the increase in electricity rates kind of puts another nail in the coffin, as the saying goes.
As usual the government tries to soften the devastating blow by trying to reassure all of us in the usual patronising tone that the increase will not “burden the rakyat’” I tell you ah, the next time I hear that phrase used I think I sure vomit one.
Okay, while my lunch is still sitting safe in my stomach I will try and look at things a bit more objectively la. While my family and I were away at the beach it was announced that electricity rates would be increased by an average of 7-8%. That was quickly qualified with saying that the increase would not adversely affect people whose electricity bills were RM77 a month or less. Or something silly like that la.
Well, I guess if there are a lot of people who actually use less than RM77 worth of electricity per month, these people will say that we urban folks are just too used to our air-conditioned homes, LCD television, Wii games, and internet and computer addictions.
“That’s why la you all use so much electricity. So you pay lor. We all kampong folks don’t need so we are sure not going to be burdened by the increase. Just like the Kerajaan tells us.”
That’s what the Kerajaan wants you to believe. That just because you don’t use air-conditioning, just because your kids play marbles in the garden instead of Wii games, just because your internet visits are limited to what your urban cousin shows you on his iPad, you’ll be spared the extra tenaga expenses needed to survive. You believe ah?
Well, just last week I was at a kopitiam in Petaling Jaya. One of the old-style, traditional ones. No air-con. No waiters in starched uniforms. And the kopi-o came in a cup sloshing spilt kopi-o. You know the type. I ordered one Milo ice for my son and a kopi-o ice for myself. The bill came to RM5.60!!! Imagine that!
And what was before the announcement of the electricity price increase. I wonder how much it will cost the next time I go there for breakfast?
We have all experienced how prices of stuff increase with the increase of other “stuff”, right? Most times prices increase without any logical reason. For example, when the price of sugar goes up 10 sen per kilo or ton or whatever, the flers selling the tarik will raise the price per glass by 10 sen. And so on and so forth.
When you ask why, the fler will say, “Boss, gula naik harga lor.” But that’s naik harga 10 sen per kilo. How many kilograms of sugar do you use in my glass of teh tarik, boss?
How can an increase in electricity prices not affect most Malaysians? Up to 75% of Malaysians?
Okay, if we believe the government spin, there might be millions of Malaysians who use very little electricity in their daily lives and so are not bothered by the tariff increase. But it is only common sense that what you don’t pay to Tenaga Nasional you will need to pay to your local sundry shop, mamak stall, nasi lemak seller. They will all say, “What, you don’t want fan ah? Damn hot you know. Fan use electricity and electricity rates gone up ma. So RM2.50 for your kopi-o kosong please.”
Each and every time the government increases prices for stuff or cuts subsidies they tell us the same old story. The rakyat will not be burdened. The money saved will be used for the betterment of life for the Malaysian rakyat.
I don’t know about you la, Ali, Rama and George, but I am sure about to keel over from the weight of the government-induced burdens over the years. I still don’t see any sign of better public transport, better schools, hospitals.
Okay la, I have to turn off my computer already because I need to keep my electricity bill this month to below RM77.
And if you’re still feeling the effect of being screwed yet again, here is something else that will worsen the pain in your backside. Check out this link: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/6/6/business/14432852&sec=business.