Biting the bullet on prices


Anita Yahya frying fish ball, keropok lekor and cokodok pisang at her stall at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreational Park in Ipoh. She says she is maintaining her prices as her customers are also dealing with the higher cost of living. — Photos: SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star

AFRAID of losing their customers, many food traders in Ipoh would rather settle for less income than raise the prices for their goods.

Noodle seller Alan Kong has decided on a wait-and-see approach for now even though the removal of subsidies on cooking oil means he has to fork out an additional RM20 daily.

“I use at least 10kg of cooking oil to fry fish balls, fish cakes, beancurd skin, and other stuffed vegetables such as brinjal and bittergourd. This is an additional cost of RM600 per month.

“Not to mention, the price of garlic has also been steadily rising by more than RM10 per kilo every other week among other things.

“Even the price of cooking gas has also gone up,” said the 65-year-old who has been in business for over 30 years.

Kong said the removal of the cooking oil subsidy could not have come at a worse time when Malaysians are grappling with rising prices.

The removal of the subsidy on cooking oil has raised the cost of doing business for many hawkers.
The removal of the subsidy on cooking oil has raised the cost of doing business for many hawkers.

“No doubt my cost of doing business has gone up, but for now, I’m still managing.

“I dare not raise prices for fear of chasing away my customers who are also struggling.

“I’ll absorb the extra cost as long as I can,” he added.

Pisang goreng and kuih seller Nasri Bahari, who uses more than 30kg of oil daily, is effectively losing about RM50 of his daily income due to the subsidy removal.

Yet, he is unwilling to pass on the cost to his customers, whom he says, are also going through hard times.

“I won’t raise prices and I won’t cut down on portions.

“I’m steadfast in my principles. I don’t cheat on my ingredients because even though people may not know what I do, I know God knows.

Hawkers selling fried foods such as goreng pisang require a high volume of cooking oil daily in their business.
Hawkers selling fried foods such as goreng pisang require a high volume of cooking oil daily in their business.

“I’ll just have to make up for it in other ways. Profit or loss, that’s all decided by God,” said the 46-year-old father of five, who has been operating his stall near the 7-Eleven outlet in Ipoh Garden for the past 17 years.

At the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreational Park, better known as Polo Ground, laksa and keropok lekor seller Anita Yahya too agrees that it is unfair to pass on the extra cost to customers.

“It doesn’t really matter as most of my customers are students. I’ll just bear with making less profit,” said Anita, 50.

Down the road, 54-year-old trader Salmah Murad, who also sells laksa and keropok lekor, agreed that charging customers more each time there is a rise in the price of goods is somewhat extreme.

Azarabe Mohamed says she has to take higher costs into consideration as she has to support her family. — T. AVINESHWARAN/The Star
Azarabe Mohamed says she has to take higher costs into consideration as she has to support her family. — T. AVINESHWARAN/The Star

Meanwhile, Azarabe Mohamed, 43, is among the very few traders met by MetroPerak said they will increase prices because of the removal of the oil subsidy.

“I’ve increased the price of my pisang goreng by 10 sen and also reduced the size of the bananas to half.

“People are not going to be happy but what can I do, times are tough,” she said.

Azarabe, who also sells curry puffs, tapioca fritters and prawn fritters, said she uses 3kg of cooking oil a day and that it would be tough to sustain her business without hiking her prices.

Salmah Murad frying keropok lekor at her stall at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreational Park. She says it would be unfair to customers to raise her prices every time the cost of an ingredient goes up.
Salmah Murad frying keropok lekor at her stall at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreational Park. She says it would be unfair to customers to raise her prices every time the cost of an ingredient goes up.

“The prices of other items have also risen and I’ve been trying to absorb the extra costs, but I’ve got kids too.

“I want to make sure they have a good life. It’s disappointing, but I can’t do anything about it. Life is tough for everyone and I have to make tough choices to stay afloat,” she said.

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