Why did the (Malaysian) chicken cross the road?

Times for ministers to step up to the plate to tackle the people's socioeconomic problems

XUAN TUAN ANH DANG/PIXABAY

Because the chicken knew it would fetch a better price on the other side, is a possible answer to the question, if it was posed under normal circumstances.

But then, such a humorous response is out of place in the present context, where not only has the price of chicken gone up, the prices of other basic necessities, such as flour, cooking oil and fruits, have also escalated.

Jokes aside, ordinary Malaysians face the stark reality of essentials being priced upwards, to the especial detriment of those who already had to struggle to make ends meet.

Nasi lemak and teh tarik, for instance, are becoming a luxury for people who regularly fill their tummies with those once affordable breakfast staples.

Life gets harder not only because of dearer foodstuffs but also due to the slow recovery of the economy and its attendant problems, such as shuttered businesses, unemployment, low wages and poverty.

And yet, these socioeconomic challenges do not seem to deter some leaders from politicking.

For example, there are political leaders and their followers who do nothing except clamour for an early general election, as if oblivious to the plight of the vulnerable – or worse, as if in contempt of the people’s suffering.

To justify calling for early polls, Umno leader Najib Razak has demonised the previous Pakatan Harapan ministers of 22 months, calling a number of them “cap ayam” (chicken brand) owing to their supposed incompetence.

It is implied that a snap election is therefore necessary for Umno to win and provide better leadership for the country.

Such name-calling is obviously impolite as it insults the chicken, the worth of which is now – as indicated above – on the uptick. Besides, it could also be considered fowl language.

Why, the rare bird is worth more now than any “frog”, perhaps even those of the political persuasion.

To be sure, the current price ceiling is RM8.90 per kg for a dressed chicken and RM9.90 per kg for a “super” dressed one. Mind you, these prices are likely to be further inflated once government subsidies for chicken breeders cease.

Speaking of dressing, it appears that certain politicians consider it crucial to dress up to the nines to make a good impression on colleagues and counterparts. Possibly, they prefer form over substance. But we digress.

If “cap ayam” is employed to characterise ministers of mediocre quality, as Najib attempted to do, then one would have to be careful about applying the term in the present context as it may gain traction with some members of the bloated cabinet.

Many of them were handpicked (not to be confused with henpecked) by the previous prime minister, guided by the necessary political calculations in the midst of seeking a parliamentary majority for the ruling pact.

One would think that some of the ministers would step up to the plate to address the socioeconomic problems faced by the needy and the poor. But unfortunately, that does not seem to have happened.

At the very least, one would expect that the cabinet ministers would have volunteered to have a pay cut as a kind gesture of concern for the vulnerable in our midst. The cut may well be chicken feed to the ministers.

Instead, as if to keep up with the chicken in the headline, a minister was reported to have crossed over from a political party to another – though we don’t know if it was for a better price.

While ordinary Malaysians are facing economic hardships, ambitious and shrewd politicians should not be counting their chickens before they are hatched. – The Malaysian Insight



AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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