Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Housing and Food - actual determinants of living standard.

You can list down all the things that determine one's comfort in life and standard of living, from a palatial home to luxury cars, expensive wardrobe and a beautiful wive (or wives/mistresses). As your earning power increases and more money pours into your bank account, the list will increase. One thing you can be quite sure of, the list will expand faster than the figures in your income account, unless fortune had been smiling on you all the while. I say it's fortune that makes one super-rich and wealthy for many astute businessmen,traders, whiz kids, film stars, musicians, conmen etc work just as hard as their counterparts, but never make it rich. The super-rich, of course, do not worry about their bank account for others are working their asses out to make money for them. It's those who have to work hard to attain and maintain a comfortable life, who find that the cost of modern living is eating away at their bank account faster than the increase it enjoys.millionaires' abode

That's certainly true of life in Malaysia with rapid development and urbanization. The super-rich have no problem for their fortunes sometimes ride on the crest of the developmental waves, if not on the misfortune of those who are overtaxed,underpaid and over-worked to generate the wealth of the nation.The wealthy barons, mandarins and 'towkays' (magnates and businessmen) , for instance, harvest a great fortune everytime a new legislative measure or a major development project is launched by government, such as the imposition of using seat belts in cars, the use of safety helmets, expanding the use of computers throughout the country and in schools and offices, the modernization of roads and the transportation system, the raising of standards in housing and commercial buildings etc. Every such new law usually makes certain financial imposition on the common citizen, shrinking the value of his or her earnings.only for the rich and wealthy

With the constant reduction of the worker's savings, the acquisition of the essentials of life becomes a more strenuous job. The price of these essentials in the market keeps going up, sometimes at a ludicrous pace. Most essential among the essentials are housing, means of transportation and foodstuff.New laws and regulations usually affect production cost, causing the market price of these essentials to go up like a hot-air balloon. In the case of housing, the price has reached the million ringgit mark even for a modest home while even the locally produced cars are now causing the common worker to be in debt for up to nine years. Studies have been made to show that housing and car purchase had made the Malaysians with a four-figure income a heavy debtor. Those who can be classified as "middle class wage earners" before have found it almost impossible to buy a house in KL while luxury cars are out of question. You must be a millionaire to own a condominium in Mount Kiara, Seri Harta Mas, UK Perdana, and many of the new posh housing areas.the prices can be astounding

On can of course regulate one's expenditure on foodstuff. But how can you go without some of the most ordinary items like chicken, beef and vegees when the price of these items keep escalating, especially at times of insufficient supply. During this month of Ramadhan when the Muslims are fasting, the prices of goodies at the Pasar Ramadhan are almost unbelievable. You certainly don't get much for RM10 and RM50 is insufficient to buy enough food and delicacies for a family of four. Chances are the prices of foodstuff as set by the Pasar Ramadhan hawkers will be carried over to the normal market after Hariraya. There doesn't seem to be any control at all over prices although government is well aware of the price hikes on all food items. The most disturbing increase in the price of food items is for beef, chicken, and fish. This is not to say that the price increase for food grains and vegetable is not hurting the average wage earner.

Since Housing and Food are the two items in modern living that makes the difference between rich and poor, comfortable and miserable, dignified and shameful, something must be done to ensure that the average wage-earner in this country can afford them to maintain a decent level. As for transport facilities, we do have local cars that are quite affordable and public transport that is quite dependable though far from praiseworthy.Unless these aspects of life in Malaysia is looked into the quest for becoming a high income nation may end up in a flurry of inflation and the impoverization of the average wage earner.


abdulhalimshah said...

These two basic necessities are the essential requirements for a decent standard of living for the citizens of our Nation and unless they are made affordable, woe betide us. Recently we heard that 60% of govt employees cannot afford to own houses and this is alarming. What is needed is the return to the creation of the former SPPK to build and sell affordable houses like in the seventies and eighties.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Water finds its own levels. The problem started when housing developers were crying 'crocodile tears' lamenting unsold units were rising. Conditions for foreign ownership were eased and price now spiraled up beyond control.


norzah said...

Yes, Akhi Halim, I read about the high percentage of govt employees who cannot afford to own a house with the current price tags too. Even private sector employees with a higher income also find it hard to get a decent house that's affordable while those who have secured one falls badly into debt. The price for even a double-story terrace house now goes close to the half million mark. With the price of other essentials going up in leaps and bound how do you expect our young wage earners to be able to live in comfort even when the country claims to have become a high income nation?

norzah said...

Thanks for indicating when the price tags for houses actually started to escalate, Akhi Kaykuala. Once the floodgate to foreign ownership was open, developers started to cash in by selling their houses to the foreign
millionaires and fund operators. Local house seekers got to tighten their belts to buy a house. Result? Who owns most of the luxurious condos in Mont Kiara , Harta Mas, etc,etc. The average Malaysian income earner can just bite their fingers......