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Friday, November 1, 2013

Folks and their loud mouths

Published: Friday November 1, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Friday November 1, 2013 MYT 8:30:36 AM

IT is interesting to note that the people of Sungai Limau, who will be facing a by-election on Nov 4, still find it easy on their wallets to enjoy their favourite drinks and food in “Sungai Limau folk not hot and bothered over inflation and GST” (The Star, Oct 30).

The headline may be a bit misleading but I get the picture that those visiting campaigners from outstation, particularly from the Klang Valley, are tucking in all they can before leaving town with the relatively low prices they pay for their nasi lemak, teh tarik, laksa and fried ubi keledek.

But I am sure when the city slickers go back after the polls are long over, they are not going to get the prices they are paying now for their meals and tea breaks.

And it will not be due to the GST or inflation, but essentially because of their naivety.

Let me illustrate with examples from where I live. Teluk Intan, is a riverine town in Perak, about 170km north-west of Kuala Lumpur.

It’s a “10 minutes to anywhere” type of place, though not a small town but a municipality.

The town’s claim to fame is its leaning tower, the second such structure in the world after the one in Pisa, Italy.

During weekends and festive holidays, the roads are jammed with vehicles that largely bear Selangor and KL number plates.

They don’t come to marvel at the tower but for the town’s popiah basah, Ghulam Rasul fried chicken and Mastan Ghani mi rebus, among other local favourites.

They come to also browse through the weekend and farmers’ markets, the night bazaars and the wet market.

Amazingly, they also clog the local shopping centres, which are far smaller from the massive malls in the cities, to buy things they can easily get anywhere in the Klang Valley.

The problem starts, especially at the market, when they go “Wah! so cheap” or “Wah, you cannot get this price in KL” or “Wah, can get so much for this price.”

And as they “wah” here and “wah” there, the market vendor would casually ask, “How much would you pay for this in KL?” and the KLites would actually tell him.

In his mind the vendor would be thinking, “Why am I selling this thing cheap when these people actually can pay more?”

And that’s how the prices go up in towns like Teluk Intan and other places where visiting city folks go to stretch their ringgit.

My advice to these people is, if you think the price of your favourite meal, snack or market produce is cheaper in our town than in your city, don’t say it out loud; whispering about it is enough.

And wipe that surprised look

from your city face, when you’re looking at the price tag or price list while buying your fish and vegetables.

When vendors at the market or the bazaars hike up their prices to meet your city standards, it will be the local people who will bear the brunt.

And our distant towns will no longer be charming to visit.

Teluk Intan

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