Thursday, 16 January 2014

Najib's kangkung economics

The price of kangkung has fallen! At least our prime minister has read of such a report in the newspapers.

Suddenly kangkung has become the king of all vegetables in the market, thanks to the government's saving grace. Finally we see hope in the Malaysian economy.

So, Najib talked in elated spirit that while prices of all other items have soared and everyone is pointing his finger at the poor government, at least kangkung is cheaper now and Malaysians should by right be thankful to the government.

Why not?

We have cheap kangkung on our dining tables, every meal of it, and the inflationary pressure seems to have somewhat been relieved. Who knows other stuffs will just follow suit.

From this day on, kangkung will no longer be cooked in the one and only kangkung belacan way. New culinary styles may be developed around kangkung, something like roti kangkung, kangkung spaghetti, kangkung burger... You name it.

Kangkung could as well make it to the rank of our national dish, a perfect manifestation of Malaysia's culinary diversity!

A "kangkung economics" discipline should also be installed at economic schools in our local universities, offering indepth analyses on how the government has successfully brought down the price of kangkung under mounting inflationary pressure, and how the kangkung price has helped mitigate the inflationary pressure and lifted the national economy.

Wait a minute! While electricity tariff is on the rise, we can't generate electricity with... kangkung. Indeed fuel prices are getting dearer today but we are not able to fill our gas tanks with kangkung juice and expect it to power our car engines. And toll rates are higher now but again we can't offer a stalk of kangkung in lieu of cash when we drive past the toll gate.

We can't even have kangkung every meal. Our grandmothers told us we cannot consume too much kangkung as it will debilitate our leg muscles; traditional Chinese medical practitioners have also said kangkung should be avoided if a person is physically not strong enough while beauticians have advised their lady customers too much kangkung could dilate the blood vessels on your legs.

No, I'm not trying to say bad things about this vegetable. In its stead, I think we should all be grateful to it. Rumors had it that during the Japanese occupation food was in short supply but fortunately we had enough of kangkung to fill the people's stomachs.

Well, that was the war-time survival economics. Today, what we are facing is a very much more complicated modern economics. No one is capable of, or willing to be returning to those bad old days.

We cannot count on kangkung alone today. With prices of one hundred other stuffs rising and only that of kangkung sliding, we cannot make kangkung a universal substitute. Less so to solve our economic woes.

And what I really don't understand is what the falling price of kangkung has got to do with our government?

The rain has kept falling on our soil over the past few weeks. Many have been caught in frustrating traffic snarls while crop harvests were badly affected with the exception of kangkung, which has flourished thanks to the abundant rainfall.

If the government is so competent in bringing down the price of kangkung, why doesn't it do the same to the others?

The reduced kangkung price could be the result of a climatic phenomenon, not of some economic measures. What a joke that our PM has exploited it as a pretext for his unwelcome policies!

Instead of glorifying kangkung, perhaps the government should spend more time and effort getting to understand the plight of the people in the face of skyrocketing prices and identify the right solutions to fix the problem.---Mysinchew


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