Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reduction Seduction

The news that the Indian Muslim (commonly known as Mamak restaurant here) restaurants are reducing the price of nasi kandar, the tari and roti canai came as a shock to me.

Because I was saying, “Naaaaahhhhh…..”

Why? Because way before the hike of petrol price, way before people started bitching about the rice of the food price, heck way before the comet wiped out dinosaurs and thousands of species excluding coackroch and Samy Velu, saying “cut throat” to describe food price in Indian Muslim restaurants would be too kind*.

But the report I read this morning made me smile. Not the, “ah…finally” smile, but “yeah, right smile”.

Written by journalist Lisa Goh, here’s the opening para (lead, as journos call it): Consumers in the Klang Valley have reason to smile - the prices of nasi kandar, teh tarik and roti canai are being reduced immediately.

Great….this was written under the impression that all the consumers in Klang Valley live on Nasi Kandar, the tarik and roti canai. We won’t smile if they reduce the prices of chapatti, thosai, fried kuey tiaw, claypot rice, laksa, and even Nasi Ayam. No, we won’t smile.

Next the report goes:
Nasi kandar will see a reduction of 20 sen a plate, while roti canai (and other roti items such as roti telur, roti pisang, etc) and teh tarik will see a reduction of 10 sen each.

Wow! Amazing, ain’t it. I can save 20 sen from my nasi kandar and 10 sen from teh tarik. Thirty sen saved in a day. I am so grateful. With thirty sen I can buy….I can buy…hang on…I am sure I can buy something with thirty sen that I saved by eating Nasi Kandar and drinking Teh tarik?

And these two food item and the drink are what has enough calorie, sugar and cholesterol to kill a dinosaur**

Let’s look at the following para in the report:

This is because the Muslim Restaurant Operators Association (Presma) and the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners’ Association (Primas) have decided to support the Government’s move on price reduction.

The fuel price went down three times…only now they are reducing the price? Are they joking.

Following that para is this:
However, the price reduction will be on a voluntary basis, and there is no fixed maximum price for these three food items.

Haha, they were joking after all. I was listening to the Bernama radio this morning, and someone was online with the radio presenters, saying that the restaurant he is in now has not reduced the price. Well, it was supposed to be voluntary, right? That’s only one restaurant, you say.

Nooooo…the news radio station then got in touch with Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) President Datuk Marimuthu who was also in a mamak restaurant.

Needless to say (Fomca must be really a very depressing place to work. I bet everyone is unhappy on daily basis just not to break that continuity), Marimuthu started ranting, saying the government shouldn’t be politicking. “Rakyat cannot take it anymore. Suddenly you announce this and that”.

Whoa! Take it easy, old man. It was not the government that made that announcement. That was from the restaurant organisations. Well, he probably had different issues in his mind…but the point is, he admitted that the restaurant he is in too has not reduced the price.

But Marimuthu had a point. Basically he is saying, we are moving on…it’s a reality food prices has gone up, but don’t keep feeding us all this tiny goodies..or what he refers to as “gimmicks”.

There is a bigger problem out there. There is a financial tsunami coming and the government tells us that “hey, the tide is calm…take it easy…we are resilient”. I am beginning to hate that word “resilient”. It used to be a great word, a strong word, a confident building word that self-help gurus drink everyday for their own eg. But now “resilient” sound repugnant, redundant, repulsive and revolting!

Sorry for the rant. Coming back to the issue, actually I shouldn’t be excited about the whole thing. The price reduction only applies to the members of the organisation. As one of its presiden said, it will start with 200 members in Klang Valley and soon will be adopted by all 4500 members nationwide.

The report goes on:
Asked if such a move would incur losses for the restaurant operators, he replied: “No, it will only lower our profit margin.”

Asked if there were plans to include more items for price reduction, he said: “Slowly.”

Finally, talk about honesty. Here is what I think will happen, after we get whacked left, right and centre by global economic turmoil, when we are taking a little breather, they will probably come up with an announcement saying that price of Sup Kambing will be reduced 15 sen. And we are supposed to be eternally grateful for that.


*I know you amateur historians want to strangle me for wrongly suggesting that Indian Muslim restaurants existed during the dinosaur era. But you will remember me one day when anthropologists discover that dinosaurs got extinct because of eating recycled fish curry! **Another plausible theory linking T-Rex, Mamak restaurant and extinction.

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