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Sunday, June 25, 2017

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER RINGGIT: AS NAJIB & ROSMAH CAVORT IN 1MDB LUXURY, MALAY HEARTLAND FEELS THE PINCH

MOHAMAD Nor Abdullah used to tap rubber and tend cows just to get by in Marang, Teregganu.
But after the government reduced the education aid for both of his children this year due to the economic slowdown, he has had to take on another job to support them through college.
It is especially tough during Ramadan and Hari Raya, when he has to buy clothing and food for the festivities.
“One of my children at the Malacca Teacher’s Institute used to get RM595 in allowance, but now gets RM430 after the cut.
“The other one studying at the Industrial Training Institute in Kuala Terengganu has had his RM300 living allowance cut by RM200.
“Even then, the allowances come late and this time, I have had to pay for all the expenses,” the 59-year-old told The Malaysian Insight.
Mohd Nor lives in Kampung Beladau in Marang, about 20km from the town of Kuala Terengganu.
There are not many employment options in the village, beyond becoming a breeder or farmer or joining the civil service.
For Mohd Nor, earning enough to support his family is increasingly challenging as the price of rubber scraps have dropped to below RM2 per kg.
With rubber-tapping no longer profitable, he has had to find another job.
Mohd Nor Abdullah, 59, has to work part time worker as a honey collecter at his friends farm to supplement his income in Marang, Terengganu. – The Malaysian Insight pic, June 26, 2017.
Mohd Nor Abdullah, 59, has to work part time worker as a honey collecter at his friends farm to supplement his income in Marang, Terengganu. – The Malaysian Insight pic, June 26, 2017.

He is now helping his neighbour keep bees for honey.
Mohd Nor is among thousands of villagers in Terengganu who are finding it difficult to make ends meet as prices of goods keep rising even as the government cuts spending, including on aid for the people.
The consumer price index (CPI) for May rose 3.9% compared with 4.4% in April. The main increases were in transport and food groups. The average price of a litre of RON95 was RM2.09 in May compared to RM1.70 a year ago.
The CPI pressure on the food and non-alcoholic beverages, which accounts for a third of the CPI weightage, was up 4.4% in May. The CPI for Jan-May 2018 remains higher at 4.3%, more than double than the whole of 2016 which registered 2.1%.
This is despite the low living costs and the simple lifestyle of the villagers, who move around on motorcycles and do not have to pay toll to use the roads.
Money is especially tight for those with children studying in the city, such as Mohd Nor.
International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohammad admitted that the rising cost of living and dipping value of the ringgit are issues that would have an impact on the government’s performance in the next general election.
Another day, another ringgit
“Previously, we could buy so much more with our money. Now, we get so little for the same amount,” said 67-year-old Rozali Abdul Ghani, a passenger boat operator plying Kuala Terengganu and Seberang Takir in Sungai Terengganu.
Rozali doesn’t have a fixed income. How much he earns depends on how many passengers he picks up.
“If it is the school holidays, then there will be more passengers,” Rozali said. Then, he would earn between RM800 and RM1,000 in a month.
He is grateful to the state government for the cash aid it provides boat operators like him.
“The assistance is around RM200 a month,” he said, adding that the state plays a big role in reducing the people’s burden.
Rozali and his friends are lucky as the Terengganu Menteri Besar Razif Abdul Rahman, who is also their elected representative, has been doling out financial assistance to the people as the next general election nears. Razif will be contesting the elections as the Menteri Besar for the first time.
But the construction of a second bridge to Kuala Terengganu town is now threatening the livelihood of Rozali.
“For sure, the number of passengers will drop but I am confident the government will make sure passenger boat operators will not go out of business,” said Razif.
He also said that the state was also working to shift their source of income from being limited to ferrying passengers, to other areas within the scope of tourism.
Gone fishing
In Seberang Takir where Rozali lives, many of the villagers are fishermen.
As original settlers on state-owned land, many of them do not hold the titles to the land they live on.

Zulfahmi and Abdul Qayyum, both 18, are two young fishermen living along the banks of Sungai Terengganu, which is undergoing rapid development.
Like many others their age in the village, the two swapped their schoolbooks for fishing nets before they were out of their teens.
The two of them often work as crew for Class B fishing boats going out to sea to catch anchovies.
“Now that it is the clear water season, the fish are much scarcer. Our income is also much lower.
“We will get a bigger catch maybe in July or August, after Hari Raya,” Quayyum told The Malaysian Insight.
The fasting month also means that fewer fishing boats go out to sea.
Zulfahmi and Qayyum know they will not get rich fishing.
But they are doing what their fathers and grandfathers have done, and they are content.
– https://www.themalaysianinsight.com

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