Who ate all the pie?
Natalie Shobana Ambrose
IT’S a known fact that Malaysians love to eat. When it comes to food, shoes and malls, we’re spoilt for choice. I remember from a young age being introduced to the “all you can eat” buffet. Everything looks so good and I must have it all – especially the desserts. So I’d pile on my plate not just with one but a few mini cakes, the little tartlets and kuih-muih – all to be wasted later after a taste test. That’s when I learnt the idiom “waste not, want not” and realised that my eyes were always much, much bigger than my stomach. My greed overtook my hunger and I ended up wasting so much food. Of course as a child I was told, think of all the children around the world with no food and I’d always wonder if my half eaten curry puff would survive the travel and if a hungry person would still find it appetising.
As Malaysians we’re quite greedy or perhaps just as human beings, we’ve got the greed gene in us – not just for food. Bigger, nicer, fancier cars, that designer shoes, or the super expensive watch whose brand name I can’t even pronounce, or the third, fourth and fifth condo, the latest most “canggih” phone. And let’s face it, besides the greed gene, there’s that show-off gene that goes hand in hand with it.
Keeping up with the Joneses or just our own personal wants and greed can lead to real disaster – oil spill levels of disaster. It’s not that far-fetched to say that personal greed was involved in BP’s oil spill but if we look at the causes behind BP’s oil spill disaster; cutting corners, outsourcing to avoid responsibility, blame shifting, the underlying reason is greed that lined the pockets of the corrupt for generations – in exchange for the livelihoods of the not so wealthy and worse still the environment.
But we don’t have to go as far as America to find massive amounts of greed. Our logging and construction history and industry, or the sad reality of how foreign workers are exploited for the benefit of their employers’ pockets. Perhaps we don’t have massive oil spills but we do have massive landslides because of greed which deliberately overlooked safety and we too have companies with enormous losses reported when logically, they should never be in the red and that dark a red.
On one hand in Malaysia we see the über rich enjoying that fancy meal and shopping in the afternoon and on the other hand there are warnings about Malaysia becoming the next Greece, threats of subsidies being cut for basic goods that would help the lower and middle-income groups, while the rich and powerful give speeches about how the average Malaysian has to tighten his or her belt.
We tend to think that the poor only have themselves to blame or that the not wealthy are lazy, but as the pie gets bigger, you’d think that my slice too would get bigger for all the hard work I put in.
However, my slice gets smaller and I give up more of the comforts I knew and cringe every time I’m at the cashier in the grocery store while chauffeur-driven cars wait outside for the house help to be done with the shopping. How are people expected to survive when basic items such as diapers, infant formula and even fruits come with high price tags?
Could there be a connection with the wealth of the über rich and the lacking of the poor? Let’s just look at how much money has been siphoned just in the past year from PKFZ to what has been reported in the A-G’s report. Has that money been recovered? No, and who has benefited?
Instead, the average Malaysian who feels the 80 sen increase in the price of nasi lemak bought at the market is told to suck it in and live more modestly, while reports of gross corruption surface repeatedly.
So who has all the pie and can I have some too?
Natalie is all for a comfortable lifestyle but not at the expense of another’s. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: 10:03AM Thu, 17 Jun 2010
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