High cost of living and the plummeting price of palm oil were the common public concerns highlighted by the Malaysian media.
Apart from the tabling of the 2020 Budget in October, it is noticeable that the cost of living issue had a higher number of exposure during the first five months of 2019.
Interestingly, there were four by-elections during that period, at Cameron Highlands, Semenyih, Rantau, and Sandakan.
While campaigning for the Semenyih by-election, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak visited the Tesco hypermarket located in the district on February 13.
Following that, he raised a question on Facebook, stating that RM50 would not fill-up an entire trolley, hinting at the high cost of living in the country.
It is not the most accurate way to measure the price hike of household items because the bigger the size of an item does not equate to a higher price.
According to a Tesco Malaysia catalogue for the month of February, a 1kg of milk powder cost RM38.88, while a family pack of Malaysians’ favourite snack Mamee Monster would only cost RM2.99.
Both items would take about the same amount of space in a shopping cart.
Nevertheless, we can’t deny that the cost of living in Malaysia has been increasing.
In 2017, the inflation rate in the country increased to 3.8%, while in 2018 it was 0.97%.
According to a report by The Star, a healthy inflation rate would be around 1% to 2%. A high inflation rate would lead to high cost of living, while low inflation rate translates to slow economic growth.
High inflation rates occurred in 1998 and 2008 due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis and 2008 global financial crisis respectively.
Those were tough periods for Malaysians due to the surge in cost of living.
Is it even possible to fill up an entire trolley with just RM50 prior to the global financial crisis?
Let’s imagine that it is hypothetically possible, a full trolley of groceries that could last for a month costing only RM50.
Then maybe a RM300 ‘duit raya’ would sustain up to six months of grocery supplies prior to 2008, but sadly not today.