Malaysian consumers are weak!

The Malaysian consumers often have to face the threat of price hike by suppliers and producers. Too many times over. So much hue and cry when this happens. Almost everyone runs around like headless wet hens.

Why is this happening? For one, producers and suppliers in Malaysia have a lot of power. It is because they can do a lot of things and get away with it. They can meddle with the quality of the goods and services and offer them at premium prices, and still get away with it.

How come? It’s so simple! Malaysian consumers are very weak. Malaysian consumers have a very lousy consumer attitude. They are consumers but they fail to exercise the power that they have, against the producers and suppliers. That is why they are bullied.

Whenever there are price hikes, consumers would rather ask the Government to protect them. “The Government should……..” is one of the over used phrase in the mouths of average Malaysians. The Malaysian consumers expect the Government to check on the prices and reprimand errand producers, suppliers and retailers, every single time.

The Malaysian consumers failed to deal with these price hikes. They are unable to organize themselves to restrain from consuming these products and goods. Boycott, for short. They are simply too lazy and obtuse to go for the next substance which could substitute the product which price went up. They give a million excuses why they will eventually give in and the producers and suppliers will not only win, but they will get away with it, almost all the time. For example, Malaysian consumers are unable to change their lifestyle and habit to eat without fried food or their food prepared without cooking oil rather then grouse over the increase of cooking oil prices.

The Star, www.thestar.com.my, has such a story, last Saturday:


Teh tarik to cost 10 sen more

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Teh tarik and other beverages containing condensed milked will cost 10 sen more now in Penang, Kedah and Perak.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Operators Association president K.K. Sihabutheen said this was enforced recently at all major nasi kandar outlets in the northern states and the price increase, agreed upon by the association’s 150 members, was also for drinks like Milo, coffee and Horlicks.

The rise in the price of condensed milk led to the hike, he said.

“A carton of 48 tins of condensed milk costs RM108.85 compared to RM99.85 a year ago. Our selling price of teh tarik is still low, almost the same as the hawker’s price,” he said.

He was speaking after a dialogue between Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Lau Chiek Tuan and association members here yesterday.

Sihabutheen said the roti canai price would remain at 60 sen per piece despite the recent the increase in all-purpose wheat flour price.

“We have been selling roti canai at 60 sen for the past 12 years, the cheapest in the country. We only make a profit of one sen as the cost to produce each piece is 59 sen,” he said.

The price of roti telur (roti canai with egg) would also be maintained at RM1.30 following a request by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, he said.

Sihabutheen said members had complained that the prices of several essential goods had gone up over the last two years.

“A 50kg tank of cooking gas has gone up from RM82 to RM145, while a 17kg tin of cooking oil is now RM50 compared to RM33.

“A kilo of margarine is up 30 sen from RM2.20. A kilo of dhal is now RM2.24 compared to RM1.80 previously, while a kilo of spices is up by RM1 from RM8,” he said.

Can the Malaysian consumers boycott the Teh Tarik and Roti Canai, till the price come down to a ‘reasonable’ level? Why not?

That is why Malaysian consumers are highly dependent on Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and the price control mechanism of hundreds of products, especially food item and essential stuff. In the Malaysian history, there had been no successful or effective organized boycott of products and goods because of the indiscriminate price hike by the producers.

This is about the attitude of Malaysian consumers. The consumer power is a very powerful tool and it could be used wisely, for the benefit of the consumers. Unfortunately, Malaysian consumers have a very obtuse and complacent attitude, habit and lifestyle which got them at the losing end, every time.

Published in: on May 28, 2007 at 23:06  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. you know BD, i have never really thought about consumers this way. You’re right, Malaysian consumers are such a placid lot that they are so afraid to turn the tide against food suppliers.
    Having said that, I can tell you that things are not about to drastically change.

  2. i’ve said this in nuraina’s blog but i will say it again…

    for weeks, i have been blogging about the reality of working life… the slavery world. i try to get my colleagues to stick together… dont work OT cos there’s no benefits anyway… leave within 30 minutes from the end of the official working hours. since we are all working like 4 hours of OT average, the company should just employ more! but do they dare to do it? no… we are all too scared to offend our boss….

    it’s not just consumers… it’s everywhere… it’s just us… it’s malaysians… as long as it doesnt really matters much, we rather not rock the boat…

  3. ” Can the Malaysian consumers boycott the Teh Tarik and Roti Canai, till the price come down to a ‘reasonable’ level?”

    Why not? I already started doing it since last friday. Doing alone is not effective though.
    How about BD organising one? Let’s go for it!

  4. You are right about that.

    ” Can the Malaysian consumers boycott the Teh Tarik and Roti Canai, till the price come down to a ‘reasonable’ level?”

    It is a good challenge to all Malaysians.

  5. Zeroing in teh tarik and roti canai only will not be realistic. Its no big secret that 24 hr mamak stalls and restaurants are no longer cheap eating places, but are still packed by youngsters who come for the ambiance, big screen TV or whatever.

    Prices of everything else, road toll etc have gone up so why shouldnt they do the same.

  6. Stevie’s blog at youtiup.blogspot.com depicted the frustration of a seller who could not increase prices. There is always a seller and a buyer – two sides to a coin.

    I have posted the following:

    “You can’t raise the price, you should do other things like reduce the quality, quantity, etc. Otherwise, don’t be in this business. Mark my word, the common roti canai will get smaller and thinner and the gravy more dilute. What can the government do? Measure and control those ‘KPIs’ too?

    Eventually, prices will increase once the enforcement guys are exhausted chasing after prices to keep them down. Maybe you should wait till then.

    Consumers? They may boycot initially but after a while will succumb to the inevitable increase in prices.

    Thot: why don’t the gomen control the prices of highway toll the way they control the price of roti canai?”

    Price is only one factor albeit a major one. There are other variables that a seller can change to maintain profit margin. Can the gomen control these as well? On the other extreme, if the seller can’t make enough, it will just close shop. Too bad, go make your own roti canai and teh tarik.

  7. So, the idea is for us to boycott Teh Tarik and Roti Canai huh? It’s pretty hard for me for a start… hmm. Anyway, your article shows that we as the consumer also have to make a move instead of put the blame to the govt. Since now the govt servant has got their pay-hike, after all I can say that 90% of them is Malay.. it’s proved that we the Malay have the majority consumer power as the end-user… hmmm!! ok then..

  8. we make noise about teh tarik costing 10 sen more. the other day utusan malaysia went to town about milo ice in terengganu costing rm1.80 sen, when it should be 20 sen cheaper. then the government mobilised 400 officers from the domestic ministry to ensure that traders like the teh tarik seller and the milo ice bugger don’t push prices up by 10 sen or 20 sen.
    in the meantime, the big contractors and cronies push up service prices, supplies, cost of homes and interest rates by a few thousand ringgit and we don’t make any noise.
    Big contractors never push up prices. Whenever there are increase in variation from original contract bid, it is always the client who wants the new changes and variation orders (VO) submitted. There are series of professionals/consultants involved
    before a VO is made and it is organised.
    It is unfair to equate and/or compare mamak eateries raise price of everyday food indiscriminately against a project worth hundred of millions. A lot of factor are equated before a project that size can be mobilised, including planning and design. Interest rates are raised by Bank Negara and a lot of consideration are taken into the equation, including the affect on the macro economy of the nation.
    Again, totally incomparable measurement and unfair to make sweeping statements like that

  9. […] ‘consumerism’ power, to state and determine what products to served to them but time and again, they failed to use this power. What they always do is to take the easy way out and whine and bicker at the Ministry of Domestic […]

  10. […] This call for pro-active consumerism behaviour was featured here in this blog on 14 September as “Boycott chicken, go for alternatives” and 28 May as “Malaysian consumers are weak”. […]

  11. Yea,
    currently milk increased 10%
    bakery powder increase 20%
    mee increase 30%
    and we still able to send people to space hua..


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