Sunday, February 06, 2011

Volume 3 Issue 6: Two-Cent Economics

Ayamas Adventure

If you ever wonder why I sound so pessimistic with Malaysia's economic outlook, below is another story to add on to Malaysia's woes. If you find it difficult to grasp from the economics standpoint, the personal experience below should provide you with a clear picture of the kind of culture Malaysia has descended to.

One fine Saturday evening, after many years of having not patronized the Ayamas outlet at Batu Lanchang, Penang, I decided to give it another try after procuring some discount coupons from my cousin.

Walking up to the shop, I saw three of the staff who were standing at the entrance, chit-chatting away with one of their friends who brought along a baby in a stroller. They completely blocked the entrance and did not care less if a customer was trying to purchase something in the shop. After making eye contact with them, they decided to reluctantly step aside to allow me to enter to buy myself some Ayamas chicken.

Before I go any further, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Ayamas, it is a food franchise owned by KFC Holdings, which prides itself in serving "good" chicken. In my past visits, I have always ordered the "Perchik Chicken" which is roasted with a variety of spices that include hints of ginger, which I found to be very unique and somewhat tasty.

Perchik Chicken

So here I am, walking into the shop, looking forward to my "Perchik Chicken" and I saw another two employees sitting behind the counter chatting away. The first question that came to my mind was, "Why do they need 5 people working when the entire shop was empty?".

So I walked up to the counter and I asked for my Perchik Chicken and to my dismay, the staff told me that it was out of stock. Mind you that this was only 6.30 pm, which is dinner time for most people. They simply never cooked any. So after some deliberation, I decided to buy some of the original roasted chicken anyway and when I inquired about purchasing a bottle of chilli sauce that my family needed, the staff again replied with an air of arrogance that it was also out of stock.

At this point, one should wonder what was actually in stock. If you thought a little bit more, you might even think about what use are the five employees that are in the shop when they do not sell everything that I wanted.

How does this relate to Malaysia? Well, if you don't already know, some ministers in Malaysia claim that the country is in full employment (Malaysia's unemployment rate is around 3.5%). What is the use if the full employment is attained from hiring redundant workers that burden the sustainability of any company? Should companies be forced to do "national service"?

It is because of the rampant incompetent workers that the Malaysian education system develop which creates excessive employment in the low-skilled jobs sector, while leaving huge gaps in the high-skilled jobs. One of the top five reasons for job vacancies in the services and manufacturing sector is because of no applicants. This is extremely shocking because for whatever reasons, Malaysians feel that they don't need to work as they leave job openings unfilled. This would be unheard of in India as millions struggle in poverty and hunger and would do almost anything for a job.

There is simply insufficient hunger in Malaysia. Many people do not feel hungry because the government has subsidized fuel, flour, cooking oil and many other things. They do not feel the pain of being unemployed because goods are kept at low prices. You may ask, "Isn't this good for the public?" Well, in the short run, it makes a small group of people happy, but who is going to pay for all the subsidies in the long run?

To make matters worse, it is because of the persistent subsidies that an economic problem has turned into a social problem. Many Malaysians have lost their hunger and have become complacent.

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