But there is something happening out of the ordinary this time around, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
The Ayer Hitam MP, who visited his constituents in the run-up to Chinese New Year, said the common feedback he got was sheng huo shi fen kun nan (life is so hard).
“One man told me he is going to close shop and that his son will be retrenched after Chinese New Year,” Dr Wee said during an interview at Wisma MCA recently.
Celebrations are low-key amid a flagging economy which is also seeing a high cost of doing business, rising cost of living and unemployment, and the sluggish ringgit.
It has been a struggle for the middle and lower income groups.
Take the recent 400% hike in price for onions, from RM3 per kg to RM12 kg.
“I remember how helping my mother cut onions would bring tears to my eyes. Now, tears will (literally) flow by just looking at the price of onions,” he quipped.
Ayer Hitam certainly is not alone as economic problems cut across boundaries throughout the country.
Dr Wee, giving his take on the Year of the Rat, hoped for better days ahead for Malaysians, calling on the Pakatan Harapan government to get its act together to make this happen.
He spoke at length on how the country’s development was bogged down by the antics of the ruling coalition, from its internal politicking, mediocre leaders to issues on race and religion.
“Please don’t quarrel with superpowers. Please don’t quarrel with India,” Dr Wee said, referring to a Reuters report on Jan 14 that Indian palm oil importers had stopped purchases from Malaysia after the government privately warned them to shun the product from the nation following a diplomatic spat.
According to the report, the warning was “almost in parallel with New Delhi’s move to restrict imports of refined palm oil and palm olein after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticised India’s actions in Kashmir and its new citizenship law”.
There are 650,000 oil palm smallholders in Malaysia. Any disruption on the export of the commodity will have dire impact on the economy.
India and China are the top two importers of palm oil from Malaysia.
Dr Wee also said that projects with long term gains should be given priority.
He cited the RM30 e-Tunai Rakyat initiative that cost the government at least RM450mil to pay 15 million Malaysians RM30 each.
“While I am not against the government giving money to the people, the amount can be used for (further developing) fifth generation (5G) technology instead,” he said.
Under e-Tunai Rakyat, Malaysians aged 18 and above who earn less than RM100,000 a year are eligible to claim RM30 from the government through one of three e-wallet operators between Jan 15 and March 14.
On another matter, Dr Wee said the poser on the country’s eighth prime minister and when a new leader will assume that role is “energy sapping”.
The tug of war between the supporters of Dr Mahathir and prime minister-in-waiting PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took a twist recently.
On Jan 15, Dr Mahathir said he was ready to step down as head of government at any moment that the Pakatan presidential council demands it.
“As far as I am concerned, if they want me to go, I will go now,” the Prime Minister said in response to several PKR MPs’ proposal that he hand over the country’s top post to Anwar in May.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was the first to reject the proposal. Dr Wee said he doubted the proposal would get support from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.
“Dr Mahathir can stay on until he is 100 and say you (Pakatan) want me to be the Prime Minister,” he said.
But political uncertainties, especially those that involved the country’s top post, do not augur well for the economy, he noted.
On the not-so-happy moments in the country in the past one year, Dr Wee said Pakatan leaders were not short of fresh issues or antics every other week to keep the Opposition busy.
He pointed out that Pakatan, despite its strong election machinery, losing in five by-elections – Rantau, Semenyih, Cameron Highlands, Tanjung Piai and Kimanis – since the general election in 2018 showed that all is not well under its rule.
The voters have sent a strong message to the government not to take them for granted.
The MCA president also described Barisan Nasional’s victory in Tanjung Piai where MCA’s Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng defeated Pakatan’s Karmaine Sardini by a 15,086-vote majority on Nov 16 as the happiest moment for MCA in 2019.
Did you find this article insightful?