I recently called a contractor to mend a leaking roof of my house. After looking, examining and analyzing the roof condition of the old section of my house of about 20 years, he recommended to me to do 'an overhaul' instead of only 'concentrating' of the leaking roof.
After doing some calculations, he concluded the total costs to remove the odd 20 sheets of old asbestos and replaced them with new ones plus workmanship would summed up to about RM12,000!
'Maa shaa' Allah' (It is as Allah has willed) it was too costly and RM12,000 was a lot of money. I did not said that I agreed to his suggestion, but instead I asked for his telephone number and told him that I would inform him latter on about my decision.
A few days ago, I called him saying that I would like to mend the leaking part only. He agreed and after ordering materials such as a few sheets of asbestos, ridges (rabung) and cement he began work with his friend at about 10:30 in the morning.
At about 3:00 pm, they had finished work and when I asked the contractor what's the total cost of 'the project', he said it was RM1,500! My throat was dry..., I said nothing but paid him.
To me RM1,500 was a lot of money for such a job...but as I talked about it to my wife, we tried to rationalize the situation. We cracked a few jokes and among them were that we are now living in the era of 'barang naik' (the prices of necessity items keep on raising) so contractors too need to have a lot of money and one way out is to raise their demands or costs of their projects.
Perhaps they too had experienced the side effect of petrol and toll hikes, the effect of GST (goods and services tax) and most importantly the high prices of necessity items whats more building materials such as cement, sand and bricks.
Regarding daily necessities items, nowadays their prices have soared to a very high level that sent shivers to men on the street especially housewives. Contractors and their workers too need to buy those items to feed their families, thus why not they too raise the costs of 'their projects'?
The prices of fresh products such as fish and vegetables are too expensive and keep on soaring. Perhaps the most expensive product nowadays is 'udang' (prawns) which soared to RM30 per kilogram! At this price, 'udang' is almost beyond the reach of the ordinary 'rakyat'. 'Sotong' (squid) too is very expensive; its about RM18-RM20 a kilogram.
Local 'daging lembu' (meat) is about RM30 a kilogram, chicken is about RM9 a kilogram and even the humble 'ikan cencaru', kembung', 'selar' and 'kelisi' which are labeled as the poor man's food are about RM12 per kilogram.
For the rich man's diet such as 'ikan parang' and 'tenggiri', the prices would soar to around RM25-RM30 a kilogram. It is almost out of reach for the ordinary 'rakyat'.
With a daily budget of RM10 (an allocation of RM300 a month for wet items such as fish and vegetables), a housewife would face difficulties in running her kitchen. During this era of 'barang naik', why not a contractor raise the costs of 'his project' because he had to give extra money to his wife...perhaps RM20 or RM30 a day for the 'belanja dapur' (expenditures of necessity daily items).
The irony of it is when the people are suffering with this 'barang naik' (BN) syndrome; some leaders keep on telling the people to spend on necessary items only.
Now let us focus once again to the high cost of mending or repairing our houses. If mending a roof costs RM1,500, what would be the cost of doing renovations such as building extra rooms or toilets? Perhaps having an extra room for a house in my area (Melaka) would cost RM25,000 while adding a toilet would be around RM10,000.
Based on the exorbitant costs of doing renovations, then what's the prices of houses in Malaysia especially in cities and big towns such as Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Johor Baharu, Seremban, Kota Bharu, Alor Star and Kuantan? A few years ago my eldest son signed an agreement with a housing developer to purchase an apartment in Bandar Baru Bangi. Well, it costs him more than RM300,000!
A recent research done by Khazanah Research Institute (KRiS) found out that Malaysian houses cost 5.5 times more than the annual median income, making them more expensive than even Singapore and United States!
According to KRiS’s findings in its book titled 'The State of Households', many Malaysian households also have limited savings making them resort to loans and credit schemes which charge high interest rates to pay off their debts including in buying houses.
“By global standards, our housing is expensive at 5.5 times the annual median income when it ought to be three times,” claimed KRiS managing director, Datuk Charon Mokhzani.
In comparison, Singapore’s housing prices cost 5.1 per cent of annual median income, while houses in the US cost 3.5 per cent of the annual median income.
Subhanallah (Glory to God) dear readers, KRiS had exposed that the prices of houses in our country are too expensive and beyond the reach of the 'ordinary people' yet this issue was not tackle accordingly - we are afraid that the young generation would have to rent houses for their entire lives as they could not afford to buy one.
The irony of it; when the ordinary 'rakyat' could not afford to buy a house, those in power (leaders) and those who controlled the media choose to avoid the issue or giving 'a haze picture', claiming that we are on track to be a fully developed nation in 2020 with the people having high incomes.
Nowadays a large section of the 'rakyat' only dreamed of owning a house and even they succeed in buying one, we are afraid they would have to 'service' the loans for the rest of their lives. Or worse still, there were cases where their children had to continue paying the loans; for example those who had borrowed money from relatives or ah longs! - ES