80-year-old seller: My wantan the cheapest in Penang

Steady business: Gan serving the wantan mee at his home in Jalan Lembah Permai in Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

BUTTERWORTH: Wantan mee seller Gan Seng Lean, 80, has been maintaining the price of his wantan at 10 sen each regardless of the fuel price.

“I dare say my wantan is the cheapest in Penang. I have been selling at this price for the past 15 years,” he said at his home in Jalan Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah.

“My wantan mee is priced at RM2.50 for a small plate and RM3 for a large plate over the past five years.”

Gan said that he did not increase the price even after the fuel price hike because he did not have many commitments.

“I don’t need to hire a helper because my wife helps me out and I’m selling from my home so I don’t have to pay rent,” he said.

Gan is the kind of trader that many consumers are calling for. They are fed up with the blame game being played by food stall operators, wholesalers and suppliers.

They want the prices of food and drinks to be reduced now, following the fall in fuel prices.

Salesman S.Y. Toh, 32, said cost of living had been going up in the last few years yet with the sudden reduction in fuel prices, retailers and food sellers were not lowering their prices.

“The reason given by everyone is the same.

“They are worried about the GST (Goods and Services Tax) implementation, which might reduce profit, and the uncertainty of how long the low oil price will remain.

“Many businessmen still don’t fully understand the GST and to play it safe, they are not reducing their prices,” he said at a restaurant in Butterworth yesterday.

Retired factory manager P.Lingam, 62, said every business needed to make money but it was up to the authorities to come up with rules to ensure consumers were not burdened.

“Right now, even things listed under price-controlled items are sold higher than they should.

“The Government should implement guidelines to control the price of items or else nobody will take the first step,” he said.

Several traders, however, came out in defence of maintaining the high price of items.

A sundry shop owner, who only wanted to be known as Lee, 65, blamed the manufacturers for keeping quiet on the issue.

“If manufacturers of canned drinks, rice and instant noodles do not lower their prices, we can’t too. Otherwise, we will be selling at a loss.”

A vegetable supplier, identified only as Ooi, said it was unreasonable to link the price of vegetables to fuel prices.

“Weather has a bigger effect on vegetables than anything else. Consumers cannot expect us to sell at a cheaper price just because of the fall in fuel prices.”

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