Just a few days ago, a single mother stole meat in Negeri Sembilan to cook rendang for her daughter and a drug addict stole Milo packets from the UO Supermarket in Kuala Lumpur.
While some would scoff at her and the drug addict for wanting rendang and Milo when they cannot afford it, they must think again of the fact that there are actually people who have to steal to taste rendang and Milo.
Farina Nor Che Ya, 38, was bound over for two years for good behaviour in the sum of RM1,500 by the Magistrate’s Court in Seremban last Wednesday,
She was arrested for stealing turmeric leaf, pandan leaves, lemon grass, mutton, hair shampoo, ointment, underwear, pants and scarves, all worth RM262.86 at a supermarket near Centrio Square, Seremban 2, on Aug 5.
Bernama reported that Nor Farina, who pleaded guilty to stealing, said her actions were due to the hardship she was facing and that the items she stole were to make ‘rendang’.
She had been receiving RM150 from the Welfare Department and survives by collecting used goods. She has diabetes and her only child has hypoglycemia.
She has since been included in the list of recipients for aid from tithe contributions of Negeri Sembilan
Will we be seeing more cases of the poor and hungry resorting to crime just to cut down their hunger? Will we be seeing more cases of homelessness and default in payments leading to bankrupts in their twenties and thirties?
The already poor is just getting poorer, as one can hardly go to any shop – even a sundry shop – and get a handful of goods with RM20. Just buying basic groceries alone for a family of five will set one back by RM800 a month. And that is only basic groceries, not counting the daily vegetables, the bread, milk and other necessities the family may need.
Chicken is at least RM12, for the small ones and many have resorted to buying them pre-packed at supermarkets, rather than fresh at wet markets. Fish, once a staple diet of all Malaysians, have now increased so much in price, that in the city, it is a luxury to eat fish like bawal or even tenggiri, which can cost at least RM30 a kilo.
Fruits have now become a luxury for many families, and even a small watermelon can cost you more than RM5.
People now look for the lorries which park by the roadside coming in from out of town or Thailand selling local fruits at wholesale prices and instead of having fruits everyday, gorge on one day and eat none most of the week. At one time, when fruits are cheaper during their seasons, now, it is controlled by middlemen and they are more expensive.
It is cheaper to drive out to the rural areas and buy from the village folk, even after taking into account the petrol spent.
Detergent, soaps, shampoos and toothpaste have all increased in their prices and many now, instead of going for the brands they are used to, now look carefully at the prices and buy the cheaper ones.
One cannot bring a family of five to eat at a mamak restaurant without at least RM50 in hand, and that would mean no drinks except plain water and no briyani.
Just how the ones in the lower income group are living from day to day in the city as prices for everything go up and up is beyond many of us in the middle income group, who used to live a good life in Malaysia a few years ago, but even middle income people nowadays have to tie their purse strings to ensure that they only spend on the necessities and not overspend.
If only the government could ensure that the prices of basic goods are monitored and perhaps flashed across boards to ensure the public know what are the prices of the day, the people would be able to get through and the prices would not be jacked up by scrupulous middle men.
There is an urgent need not only for the government, but also for the society to ensure that the very poor do not have to resort to crime to fill their belly.