Plight of A Makcik

11:47 PM

I had a great lunch today at Kampung Gajah, Perak. For RM 6.50 I had a decent meal of rice, ikan keli bakar and kangkung goreng with teh 'O' ais. Although I would love to start blogging about "Walk Walk Find Food", today I share about the stall owner. While paying for the food, I had a small chat with her. Somehow, she could tell that I was a doctor.

Not the real dish; gambar hiasan
She told me how life has been difficult for her. With the recent increase in petrol price, business has been tough. Prices of ikan kembung, chicken and vegetables has risen tremendously. Although she opens her business for lunch; between 11am to 4pm, her water and electricity bill is RM 200 and RM 300 per month respectively (remember: commercial and residential units have different rates). She also has to pay her workers and rent for the place. Her future looks bleak.

I asked her; "why don't you raise your price slightly?".
She said she was kesian. She didn't want to burden her customers. According to her, if she raises her price there won't be as many patrons at her stall. She has a point. Its a vicious cycle. As prices go up, people will tend to spend less. More will cook and tapau from home. Its a logical and good strategy for the person on the street but what about business owners? Where to get income?

Some people might say "Tu la, tak reti nak bisnes!"....but come on. You don't expect this makcik from a kampung to open a franchise like Starbucks! You don't expect her to have the same business strategy like Oldtown Kopitiam. I am not saying she can't but it is a looooooong way to go.

I ask her about BR1M. It seems like she genuinely needs it as compared to some others who would spend it on a new phone.

"Berapa banyak BR1M boleh tolong?RM 950 setahun. Duit bil sebulan pun belum tentu lepa."
(How much can BR1M help?Its RM 950 per year. It barely covers my monthly bills.)

Those were her exact words. I am fortunate to have met this makcik. I am fortunate because I am able to see how hard it is for other folks to go through life. I am not sure if some politicians and policymakers that formulated the budget actually spent some time with the rakyat marhaen. Unlike some folks in the city, most of these folks can't just leave the country;

"Kalau tak suka Malaysia boleh duduk negara lain"

They don't have a choice. Compared to that makcik, I live a comfortable life. I have a house, a car and I don't have to worry about whether I can afford my next meal. I should stop complaining I guess.

There wasn't much I can do as I left her stall other than ask her to keep the change. As I walked away, I wonder; does anyone actually know what she has to go through. She doesn't have a Facebook account or have a blog. She doesn't have an avenue for others to know of her plight.....maybe with this post, people WILL know.


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