KUALA LUMPUR — March 8, 2018: High cost of living is often highlighted in social media platforms as being a major issue facing Malaysians and yet many maybe unaware that there is a difference between cost of living and cost of lifestyle.
Malaysians are often complaining about their hardship, struggling with life’s difficulties due to the high cost of living, yet at the same time proud to show their imported cars, designer clothes and enjoying time at fancy restaurants.
But one man looks at it differently and uses his own experience to try and create awareness.
Live within your means is something that Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron holds dear due to his experiences managing his life and finances when he started working in the late 80’s after completing his studies in the United States.
His job as an engineer with Tenaga Nasional Berhad was very good at that time but growing up in a tough economic environment taught him to be wise in managing his finances. A salary of only RM1,160 a month was adequate to support his mother’s expenses as well as his own.
“I was commuting to work by bus daily and paid RM3.60 for the tickets and had to board the bus as early as 6.55am. I had only two nice shirts costing only RM11.90 each. Seriously, how many engineers today live frugally like this?
“I am not asking them to follow my style but we need to learn to manage our finances wisely so that we will not be caught up in this issue. So we need to ask ourselves whether we are actually caught in the high cost of living or the high cost of lifestyle,” he said in an interview with Bernama.
“It depends on the wisdom of the person in managing his finances according to needs and abilities…. then there is no high cost of living,” he said.
This situation only arises when the individual spends beyond his means.
Idris also said his job as an engineer was not his ticket for living a luxurious life. Instead it required his own tireless efforts to build a better life for his family.
“I grew up without electricity. Even when I started working with TNB I was still unable to provide power supply for my mother’s house, just imagine a TNB engineer unable to provide power supply for their parents’ home. But this was the reality of my life at that time. I was only able to do that in 1991 when I was a senior engineer.
Idris feels that the high cost of living issue has been manipulated by the opposition to confuse the people, aimed at planting doubts among the community against the leaders and the ruling government.
He said prices of goods have changed steadily over the years and even before the current administration under Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“I remember when I was small listening to my mom complaining about the increased price of goods but they were still controlled by the government particularly daily basic necessities such as rice, sugar, flour and cooking oil,” recalled Idris.