The Nasi Lemak Seller


(McD have the both the rice and the burger but both are priced at a level I would say ridiculous for a nasi lemak. For the same price, I can get 3-4 items more on a nasi lemak and still got spare cash for nasi tambah. Image source: McDonalds Malaysia)

One of the biggest problems that we face during the fasting month is the difficulty to get a good nasi lemak for breakfast. The usual morning nasi lemak stalls are closed for the month.

We can still get the usual nasi lemak from the nearest kedai Mamak (the sorry looking sambal that they splash on the plain rice is the same dumb sambal that they put on the roti canai, so the sambal is nothing special and probably is not fresh too. Same goes for the nuts and the anchovies) but it is not the same with the one that I usually buy from the old Makcik at the road side stall and has a really spicy sambal (you know I hate sweet sambal – read the post here).

Last two weekends ago, we decided to have our dinner outside but instead our usual hang-out place, we decided to look for a new place. We were getting bored with our usual place. I google out and found a small food court on the way to my sister’s house. The reviews on the net look “reasonable” too. When we arrived, we noticed that most of the tables were taken up but 2 tables nearer to the road were empty. There were plenty of stalls but considering it to be a new place; we decided to go with something safe – fried keow teow, noodles and satay. Just when we decided to leave, I noticed one stall that we missed earlier – a nasi lemak kukus stall with several containers for the extra ingredients and yes, my favorite – sotong sambal and kerang rendang was available. Since we were full, we decided to try nasi lemak the next time around.

Last weekend, we were back against at the food court and instead of looking at other food this time around, we headed straight to the nasi lemak stall. An old lady was manning the stall so it reminded me of the old Makcik from my favorite place. I had high hopes. Instead of eating at the food court, we decided to pack up and eat at home whilst watching a good movie. Usually a nasi lemak kosong with sambal packed separately will cost us RM1 to RM1.50 (correct me if I am wrong) and if add the other sambal here and there, it probably cost us RM10 – RM15 for 5 packets.

We informed the lady at the stall that we just wanted “nasi lemak biasa” and immediately we sensed trouble – she looked a bit blurred when we said nasi lemak kosong and sambal packed separately. I had a feeling that there must be a floor rate for each plate she sells – there is a minimum that she needs to charge per plate and probably she had never sell nasi lemak biasa. My wife took the trouble to explain in plain English and then Bahasa.

I think after some time, she finally understood what we wanted as we saw her packing up just the rice, roasted nuts, slices of cucumber and half of a boiled egg but when we are not “looking”, she quickly packed one whole boiled egg in some of the packs (so sneaky of her). When we point out that we only need a small slice of the boiled egg and not the whole egg, she acted like she did not understand and continue to pack up (later I found she charge RM1 for one whole egg, so half means RM0.50). I was not happy of the fact that she was charging us separately for the eggs in nasi lemak when it should be part & parcel of the whole package. At that point, I was even wondering if she is going to charge us separately for the roasted nuts and the sambal (she did charge us for the sambal in the end also).

Obviously she rarely does packed meals for her customers. Then she looked even more blurred when she want to pack up the sambal. Looking “blur” may have been part of the act, I guess. So my wife had to step-in to explain again. And whilst this was going on, I did mental calculation on the cost – I had a feeling that it is not going to be cheap. Then two other customers came over and as they are filling up their plates, I was keen to know the cost of their plates because they did not take much – one cost about RM8.90 and another was just under RM7.00.

In the end, there were 5 packs of nasi lemak kosong, one small pack sambal (enough for 3 people) and one pack of kerang rendang ready on the table. It was time to calculate the total price – how difficult it is going to be right? The old lady took out her calculator and I looked at my wife – somewhat my earlier suspicion that it is not going to be cheap may be to be proved to be true.

With a calculator at hand, she charged us RM3.50 for the nasi lemak kosong with half egg whilst the nasi lemak kosong with a full boiled egg, she charged us even extra – RM4.00. The kerang rendang which was not much (if you ask me – most of it was gravy and not the actual kerang), she whacked RM10 for that alone. In the end, we ended up paying almost RM30 for the whole package. Ok lah, minus the kerang rendang (RM10), the price is about RM4 per pack of nasi lemak – which is the same as how some Mamak restaurant will charge for a nasi lemak biasa.

But what about the taste – terrible if you ask me! I had better tasting nasi lemak for far less price. This is the problem some people are having – not only the food tastes terrible, they charge their customers ridiculous price for it too – I don’t think the lady is interested to get & retain new customers (especially one is crazy about nasi lemak). It would have been a different story if the taste had been out of this world – I have no problem paying good money for good food. It is for sure that we are not going back to this stall again.

Good thing, the fasting month is ending soon and the good old Makcik will be back to open her stall.

Selamat Hari Raya and Happy Holidays to all

 

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More “Goodies” in 2014


Probably my last post for the year, hope to be more “regular” next year…

kain rentang pasang di pagar bengang bn

(To be fair, one’s voting rights cannot be questioned by anyone but there must be a break point somewhere on how much of the abuse and wastage that a Government that has been in power for so long can be allowed to continue. And seeing on how all that sweet talk and endless promises of cost reduction during the election campaign simply disappeared within months from the election, hopefully people had wise up and will take things with a pinch of salt in the next election? Image source: Omak Kau)

Just as expected, here’s another news that will leave the die-hard BN supporters getting down on their knees and say the grace for voting in the Barang Naik politicians into power for another 5 years (damn, I can even see the grateful smile on their face right now as they get ready to dig deeper into their pockets):-

Prices of stationery items are expected to go up by 20% to 30% within the first quarter of next year. Industry players claimed that they were revising the prices, partly due to the increasing costs from the implementation of minimum wages and transport costs.

Other factors include the new electricity tariff rate, higher fuel price and the currency exchange rate between the ringgit and China renminbi, as most of the imported stationery items are from China. The speculated increase in toll rates and rentals are also expected to contribute to the increase.

(Source)

Look closely at the reasons for the price hike of the stationery items – implementation of minimum wages, the new electricity tariff rate, higher fuel price, increase in toll rates (which is yet to be finalized by the Government but already having rippling effect) and rentals. It sounds all too familiar, don’t they? If these are the reasons for the proposed increase (the edible ice suppliers used the same excuse), then what’s stopping everyone else from using the same excuse and raising the price of goods and services?

Didn’t one Barang Naik Minister came out in the open and said that the price hike unlikely to have any bearing on the production cost? If we had believed that, we would have been one of the dumbest people around. Of course, the stationers and booksellers are now being threatened with action under the Competition Act 2010. But if the Minister claims cartel activity and monopoly of market, then what about Astro and TNB huh? Doesn’t the same market monopoly argument applies the same?

And as more goods and services falls into the price hike category, one may need to wonder where it will end. And whether the hike is justified in the first place? Have the people in the Government had done their homework before they press on the “Hike Up” button? Have they even consider things from the business and consumer point of view? Just asking the business to “understand and share the burden” does not really the solution that anyone with brains is looking for.

Onyourtoes: You are telling only half of the story. How can you reduce fuel subsidy when government spending has remained extravagant? How can you reduce sugar subsidy when importation and distribution of sugar is still in the hands of private monopolies?

How can you justify high price of cars when issuance of Approved Permits (APs) is for specific cronies to become billionaires. Which country on earth makes billionaires out of the largesse of public policy? How can you hike the electricity tariff when lopsided Independent Power Producers (IPP) agreements have remained unresolved?

How can you continue to raise tolls when the profit of most concessionaires achieved is far beyond their wildest expectation? How can you impose Goods and Services Tax (GST) when our accounting and retailing are so rudimentary? Read my lips, it will end up with consumers paying but the money not reaching the government.

(Source)

This is in response to the recent hikes by the Government and it just shows that Government had not thought of curtailing expenses and rationalize the reduction of subsidies thoroughly. It has remained a small patch here and a small patch there but at the end, does nothing to stop the leakages. Don’t get us wrong – the consumers will definitely pay more for goods and services provided it is justified and means a substantial improvement of quality in goods & services. Unfortunately in this “tidak apa” country, that not likely to happen – if you pay more for the toll for example, does the insane traffic jam goes away?

But the question remained is whether the Government will be seeing the increase of income at their end. They always ask the people to tighten their belts but are they doing the same themselves? The purported news of 2 BN ministers going to London for their winter shopping certainly did not look good when there are only bad news wherever you look. Who is paying for the trip and the shopping expenses?

So don’t be surprised if, with so many leakages, lack of enforcement, rampant corruption, the Government does not know the meaning of austerity and lopsided agreements, whatever the increase of price is simply going to go “into the wrong pockets” and wrong purpose. And because of this, the Government can rest assured to find itself still short of money to cover its spiraling expenses and in the end, they will be forced to push for another cut in subsidies (with the same excuses) and the vicious cycles starts all over again.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed questioned the wisdom behind the government’s decision to increase the prices of goods and services at a time when people were suffering a financial pinch. In his blog Chedet, the former prime minister of 22 years acknowledged that the government needs more money but questioned if all the increases should come at the same time.

Mahathir said the government should follow in the footsteps of businesses by “costing down” where it could either increase prices or reduce cost when there is competition or when its cost of production reduces its profits. “All its cost can be examined to determine which are truly necessary, which cost can be reduced, which service can be curtailed or modified,” he said.

He said the Government often wasted money because it was not too concerned about the returns on its expenditure, citing the Auditor General’s reports that highlight the excesses every year.

(Source)

It has come to a point where even the retired old man seemed restless now. Never mind the fact that that he should take some of the blame on laying the seeds of wastage and abuse but at least he is restless now for the right reasons (and not on the same and tired racial reasons). Hmm, perhaps he can foresee the downfall of the very system that he had nurtured when he was the PM.

Any way, there are just a few more days to go before we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome a truly Barang Naik year in 2014 (some had dubbed it as the New Year of Suffering). I just hope that even so 2014 will bring a better year for all of us in other ways and exposed to less insanity all around and reinforce the notion that a real change will only change with a change of Government in the next general elections.

Happy holidays and I will see you all next year.

Ice Ice Baby, Dummy!


ice_increase

(Another good news for the die-hard BN supporters to rejoice for the coming new year – RM0.50 increase per bag and RM2.50 per block by the edible ice suppliers and you can bet your bottom ringgit that the restaurant and food stalls will put in their own increase on top of increase for sugar price for your iced drink. Reason for the increase? The notice mentions increase in electricity tariff, increase of diesel price, implementation of the “minimum wage ruling”, increase of salary, increase of raw materials and interestingly, improvement of food safety – now that is very scary!)

I saw the above notice when I read the papers this morning. This however was not a big surprise though – it is only natural for businesses to pass on the escalating operating cost to the end consumers. So do expect your iced Milo, iced limau, iced coffee, iced tea, iced water to cost you an arm and a leg from today onwards. Sooner or later, you may want to reconsider eating out and bring your own food from home (although price of vegetables & meat had gone up as well).

Having said that, here’s one that shows that some Ministers still sticking (rather stubbornly) their head into the ground:-

KUALA LUMPUR: TRANSPORTATION and logistic companies have been warned against raising their charges in view of the toll rate hike. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Hasan Malek said the ministry could take action against their umbrella body if companies that come under it raised their charges. “The associations can be charged under the Competition Commission Act 2010 if they influence their members to increase their charges.”

Traders were warned not to use the toll rate hike as an excuse to raise prices of goods. Hasan said the ministry would take action against traders who took advantage of the hike, adding his ministry had started checking in Klang Valley traders were increasing their prices.

“It is a difficult time for Malaysians. The traders should not push the burden to the consumers but, instead, share it with them.”

(Source)

Don’t you feel like want to puke when you read this statement ” It is a difficult time for Malaysians. The traders should not push the burden to the consumers but, instead, share it with them”? Which profit driven company in their right mind want to do that?

What is happening with the Government themselves realizing that it is a difficult time for Malaysians and curtailing their over the board expenses? Some of them are still flying all around the world with the same happy sickening face – obviously, times are still good for them (pressed further, they may even ask – what difficult time?).

One thing you can be certain – that you can be rest assured that more “Christmas goodies” is on the way from Najib’s Administration. Remember it well in the next general election.