Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Malaysians plagued by poor purchasing power

Analysts say the undervalued ringgit distorts the country’s purchasing power for imported goods.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Malaysians who find themselves affording less than their contemporaries overseas have distorted and inefficient markets, lack of competition, low wages and a weak ringgit to thank for their poor purchasing power, which in the case of KL, is only 34 per cent that of New York.

Despite government assurances stating that inflation is under control, Malaysians are becoming increasingly restive over the cost of goods in relation to wages, especially those who are able to compare the corresponding price-to-wage ratios in developed economies.

Malaysians who have experienced working and living abroad often experience sticker shock when they come back and see prices in KL.

“Oh my God, a Tiramisu is RM15!” said Calvin Lee, a Malaysian who has lived in Sydney, Singapore and now London, referring to what cafes in KL are charging for a slice of cake as compared to about GBP5 (RM25) in London.

Aidi Zalman, a consultant who studied in the UK, told The Malaysian Insider that salaries in London could go much further than KL.

He had worked part-time as a waiter in London and noted that a single day’s wages of about GBP50-60 was already enough for him to buy a pair of branded shoes and even a low-end iPod, a concept unthinkable for local waiters.

“GBP100 can feed two apartments of students for a week,” he said. “Here you can spend RM100 and get hardly anything.”

“I hate it when politicians make stupid statements like Malaysia is cheap,” said Edward Seah, an engineer who has previously worked in Singapore and the US. “Prices might seem cheap when you convert it to US dollars yes, but then we should also convert our salaries to US dollars!

Victor Wong, a Malaysian expat in Sydney, said that Australians get more mileage out of their money.

A report by Swiss bank UBS AG shows KL residents have to work 22 minutes to afford a loaf of bread as compared with 18 minutes in Los Angeles.
He gave the example of clothes where he said he can get a good quality shirt for about AUD100 but would need to spend about RM200 to get similar quality in KL.

Wong pointed out that even Asian food could be more affordable for those living in Sydney than KL.

You pay RM15 for a bowl of soup noodles in KL shopping centres but only AUD10 in Sydney shopping centres,” he said.

The 2010 Prices and Wages report by Swiss bank UBS AG show that residents in KL have only 33.8 per cent the purchasing power of their counterparts in New York, 42 per cent that of London, 33.7 per cent that of Sydney, 32.6 per cent that of Los Angeles and 31.6 per cent that of Zurich.

The same study showed that on average, KL residents have to work 22 minutes to afford a loaf of bread as compared with 18 minutes in Los Angeles, 16 minutes in Sydney, 15 minutes in Tokyo and 12 minutes in Zurich.

The figures grow much worse for imported items. To buy an iPod Nano, a KL worker would have to labour a whopping 52 hours as compared with just 9.5 hours in Los Angeles and Sydney, 12 hours in Tokyo and nine hours in Zurich.

A check on salaries and prices in selected developed country cities by The Malaysian Insider showed that despite being touted as one of the world’s least expensive cities, KL residents pay as much or even more for chicken, broadband, cars and mobile phones as a percentage of their income.

Communications, for example, is one area where Malaysians are paying notably more than residents in developed countries even after currency conversion.

A 5Mbps broadband package costs RM149 in KL while in London, a 10Mbps package would cost GBP13.50, in Melbourne a 5-8Mbps package costs AUD40 and in New York, a 7Mbps service costs USD41.95.

Those who want to buy an iPhone 4 in KL, meanwhile, would have to pay RM1990 with a basic 24-month contract while in London, residents can get an iPhone 4 for just GBP199 with a basic 24-month contract and in Singapore, it costs just SGD210 with a basic contract.

Maybank Investment Bank chief economist Suhaimi Ilias said that what is important is local perception and not official inflation figures which claimed that the inflation rate in Malaysia was only 1.7 per cent last year.

“I think on the ground, not many people feel we are cheap,” said Suhaimi. “They feel that the cost of living is high regardless of what the inflation figures are.”

He added that inefficiency and lack of competition are contributing to the higher prices in Malaysia.

“I can’t understand why a motorcycle should have to cost RM6,000-7,000 and a car like the Perodua Viva should cost over RM30,000,” he said.

RAM Holdings chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said that cars are one of the sectors where the Malaysian market suffers the heaviest distortion.

Despite being touted as one of the world’s least expensive cities, KL residents pay as much or even more for basic items as a percentage of their income.
A Honda Civic in KL costs about RM115,000, or 20 times the average monthly salary of an auditor.

In Melbourne and London by comparison, a Honda Civic costs AUD25,000 and GBP19,000 respectively, or only about three times the average salary of an auditor in those cities. Even if you convert it to RM its only cost RM62,500 - RM 95,000!

The high cost of cars is part of the reason that Malaysians have leveraged themselves to a record 76 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Bank Negara statistics show that at the end of last year, 20 per cent of Malaysian household debt was due to cars, an asset which depreciates over time.

Yeah also said that the ringgit is undervalued and distorts the country’s purchasing power for imported goods.

“We need to ensure prices are right and that there are no market distortions, no subsidies and allow market prices,” he said.

But even if the ringgit is allowed to rise, there is no guarantee that savings would be passed on to consumers. The ringgit is now hovering at RM3.02 to the US dollar but Goldman Sachs predicated yesterday the currency could hit RM2.98 to the US dollar in the next three months.

When The Malaysian Insider contacted the director of wholesale and retail at government think tank Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), Ravidran Devagunam about the higher prices Malaysians pay for branded goods, he acknowledged that some retailers will maximise profits on luxury items not readily available in Malaysia but said that the government is “unable” to compel them to discount their prices even after the abolishment of import duties as luxury goods and apparel are not controlled items.

“However, we believe that market forces and consumer education will eventually force a price reduction of these goods over time,” he said.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations Secretary General Mohd Shaani Abdullah said people should question the prices that they are currently paying.

“Consumer protection will only come about when people make noise,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted. “Only then will politicians act.”


Monday, April 4, 2011

Using salt to wash fruits and vegetables is worse!

Now, who is the smart one who told me to wash my fruits and veg in salt water????
Using salt to wash fruits and vegetables is worse .

Salt is sodium chloride.

Therefore, washing fruits and vegetables with salt will make pesticides more stable.
Fruits and vegetables should be washed with water first, then clean with water again by adding a little low gluten flour (or starch). This will remove the pesticides.

A test done in the Inspection Agency pointed out: salt compound will stabilize pesticides.
It is better off to let the vegetables sit at room temperature for half a day, then rinse with water. The advertisement "Washing vegetables with salt is healthy" is incorrect.

A teacher at the Food Engineering Department said: salt makes pesticides more stable due to chemical bonds. Pesticide residues in vegetables will be locked in. Therefore, pesticides in vegetables should be removed by rinsing with water several times. Do not add salt to wash vegetables ......!?

In one nutrition class, Professor of Medicine in Taipei (now also a hospital clinical dietitian), has strong criticism of the misleading ads and wonder why no one ever stop it. Disclosure of such inaccurate information happened quite often, but no action was taken to ....? She hopes the public can have accurate medical knowledge.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Treating burns Egg white

One hopes never to be needing it, but just in case:...

A simple but effective way to treat burns with the help of egg white.

This method is used in the training of firemen.

When sustaining a burn, regardless the degree, the first aid is always placing the injured part under running cold water till the heat subsides.

And next spread the egg white over the injury.

Someone burned a large part of her hand with boiling water. Despite the pain she held her hand under running water, then took two eggs, parted the yolk from the egg white and slightly beat the egg white and put her hand in it. Her hand was so badly burned that the egg white dried and formed a white film. Later she heard that the egg is a natural collagen.

And during the next hour layer upon layer, she administered a white layer on her hand.

That afternoon she didn't feel any more pain and the next day there hardly was a red mark to see. She thought she would have an awful scar but to her astonishment after ten days there was no sign of the burn, the skin had it's normal colour again!

The burned area had been totally regenerated thanks to the collagen, in reality a placenta full of vitamins. This advice can be useful for everyone.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Little Secrets In Daily Life

1. Hot and spicy to tears, what to do?
If you accidentally eat the hot food that makes you shed tears, your first thought will be probably a glass of water. However, hot water is not a solution, it will make it more spicy. In fact, the best solution is to drink hot milk.

2. Keeping tofu firm

Soft tofu in the cooking process is very easy to break into pieces. If you want to maintain the integrity of tofu, you can soak it in salt water for about 30 minutes before cooking.

3. Soup is too salty

Making soup with too much salt, the subtle taste of the soup will be destroyed. If this happens, the remedy is to add cooked potato pieces for few minutes. The potato will absorb the salt. When soup id served, then remove the potatos.

4. Soak a little vinegar before cutting taros

Cutting taro can make your hands itching. Soaking your hands in vinegar before cutting taros will prevent your from itching.

5. How to remove the wax from an apple?

If you often eat apples with their skin, then you would need to remove the wax first before eating ....
(a) place the apple into hot water, the apple's wax will vanish.
(b) Apply toothpaste on the appple to clean out the wax.

6. How to slow down potato germination?

Potato buds contain toxic alkaloids which can cause abdominal pain and dizziness. Placing an apple in potatoes can significantly delay thier germination time. Ethylene gas produced by apple has hampered the effectiveness of potato development.
Putting apples together with papayas or kiwi will make them ripe faster. Further, apples can make persimmon astringency disappear but sweeten after a week.

7. How to make good rice?

After washing rice in water, add a few drops of lemon juice, (or a few drops of oil), cooked rice will turn out good and fragrant.

8. How to keep biscuits crispy?

When storing biscuits in a container, put a sugar cube in it at the same time. As the sugar absorbs the moisture in the container, biscuits or cookies can remain crispy and delicious.

9. What can be done if clothing stains with ink?

If ink gets on your clothing or fabric, you can use cooked rice or paste with a little detergent to remove the stain. Use your fingers to smear repeatly on the spot, stain can be removed quickly. Then soak it into fresh water with ordinary cleaning agent for a period of time before washing.

10. How to treat smelly shoes?

Put a small amount of baking soda directly into the boots, sneakers or shoes, that are obviously smelly due to dampness. Baking soda powder has the effect of absorbing moisture and odor.

11. Ring around the collar, or spotty under the armpit area of the clothing?

First brush some shampoo, shaving cream or lotion on the dirty area for five minutes. Then wash off the stain.

12. How to keep flower fresh?

Adding a little beer in the vase can keep house flowers fresh for an extended period of time. This is because beer contains alcohol which is both antiseptic and disinfectant. Beer also contains sugar and other nutrients for the leaves.

13. How to sharpen scissors?

Stacked three aluminum foil together, then cut them with the scissors to be sharpen. You will see surprising result.

14. How to remove annoying gummed labels?

It is quite annoying when comes to remove the price tags on merchandise. To remove the gummed lables neatly, all you need is to use a hair dryer to apply heat on the label before taking them off.

15. What can you do with beer beside drinking?

Most people know milk is good in cleaning foliage plants. In fact, use leftover beer to wipe plants is even better! Dip a cotton ball into beer, lightly wipe leaves to remove dust and keep them lustery. Furthermore, this method also prevents ants from coming to the plant.

15. What to do with unwanted perfumes?

Before throwing them away, unwanted perfumes could be useful. You can use unwanted perfume to clean indoor light bulbs with cotton balls. When the bulbs light up and warm up, the whole room would be filled with the aroma.

17. Remove crayon graffiti from wooden furniture.

If you have kids at home, wooden furniture are subject to crayon graffiti. Crayon stains cannot be removed with water. Although the use of paint solvents can do the job, the paint on the surface could be damaged. The most suitable method is to use toothpaste. Not only it cleans, it does no harm to the furniture.

18. Use vinegar to help mopping the kitchen floor.

The kitchen floor is often easy to get greasy. Before mopping the kitchen floor, pour some vinegar on the mop. This will enable easy removal of grease.

19. How to remove stains from tea cups?

Stained tea cups can affect their appearance. To clean up the stain with a man made loofah cloth the cups would have scraches in the long run. Just spread a little toothpaste and hand-wash the cups, stain can be removed easily. If the stain is too thick, wait a few minutes after applying toothpaste before washing.

20. Improved floor sweeping

The unused stockings can be attached to a broom to clean the floor. Stockings can help sweeping up cotton, hair and other particles that are difficult to sweep with an ordinary broom.