“I Skip Meals On Account Of My Kid”: 5 M’sians Discuss How The National Inflation Has Impacted Them

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If you’re an avid news reader, you’ve probably skimmed past more headlines highlighting the national inflation that you’d have liked.

Unfortunately, price increases for domestic goods and services have only heightened the plight of Malaysian residents struggling with insufficient wages and the after-effects of the global pandemic.

To raise awareness on these issues on a more personal scale and encourage others to voice their concerns, we asked 5 Malaysians of different age groups and backgrounds to weigh in on their jarring money-strained situations.

Disclaimer: The interviewees’ names have been changed to protect their identities.

1. “I skip meals on account of my sickly child.”

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There is no subsidy for the responsibilities of a parent.

As a single parent, one undoubtedly faces a much heavier load on their shoulders, balancing the pressure of raising a child and maintaining a decent job.

But what happens when the child in question is unwell, and costly treatments become a necessity?

According to Raymond, this situation calls for an extensive sacrifice:

Raymond is also affected by the SST exemption for his car that was purchased six months ago, leaving a very humble portion of his pay check spared by bills and necessary payments.

Resorting to cigarettes for dinner as he grudgingly awaits another payday, Raymond mentioned that he pleads with God every night for help – not for financial assistance, but to keep his own health in check so that he has the energy to raise his daughter until she is capable of caring for herself.

“I don’t expect the impossible, only what I think are basic human rights,” he added.

2. “I got a part time job because I felt guilty as a freeloading student.”

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While Sam jokingly stated that his situation was a “pride to burden trope”, he was notably affected by the unforgiving inflation which left him feeling like an additional liability to his family:

“I studied hard in school to guarantee a bright future for myself and of course that meant I’d be caring for my parents.

“But at this point, they’ve provided me with three times what they can afford and I am terrified that I’ll just end up being a disappointment,” he said.

Sam also mentioned that a few of his peers shared similar experiences and were always comforted by their parents who told them that they were not obligated to put their studies on hold just for the family’s sake.

“I do believe that I will help them someday, but it will be nothing close to what I have asked them to do for me,” he added.

3. “Trouble in paradise”

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For 29-year-old Jess, rising prices have caused her relationship to decline:

Jess noted how emotional strain tends to be ‘contagious’ within a household and feared that her 3-year-relationship will eventually snap and collapse under financial pressure.

Many seek bank loans and other forms of financial aid to pay for their wedding ceremonies, but the hopeless romantic is doubtful towards the idea of paying off the stacking debts.

“At times, we can sit down and understand each other, but that only comes after hours of bickering and sometimes days of reciprocal cold shoulder treatment,” she stated.

4. “First chance to travel, and now it’s gone.”

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For some, travelling is an annual affair or just a tiring job requirement.

For others, it is a luxury and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the world.

In our conversation, Edward continuously brought up how the people he had confided in had deemed him “spoiled” and “selfish, wanting to have a good time instead of being practical”.

This is his story:

Edward also explained that postponing the holiday was emotionally toiling as he had planned it as a gift to his family after months of consistent, hard work.

“People don’t realise it but all of us have different ways of showcasing our love. I like to do it through acts of service,” said Edward, adding that for some, material things may seem superficial but when honesty and labour are involved, one deserves to reap the benefits of their sacrifice.

5. “I’ve given up on having a child in this unstable world.”

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Having a kid is a dream for many and a shattered one for some:

Jenny says that she constantly faces family and peer pressure, urging her to have a child and live her ideal life, insisting that she will figure things out and offering their help.

“I don’t want to give in until I can be sure that I’ll be the mother I always wanted to be.

“It’s not about having a kid and flaunting them to the world. I don’t want to give birth for the sake of a legacy or an heir. Only I know how I would feel, having to ask for handouts or depriving a child I chose to bring into this world,” she said.

She also advises hopeful mothers and other women not to feel selfish or pressured if they are faced with similar circumstances.

“Luckily, my father feels the same. He has the same message to everyone struggling out there. This is not our fault. We are citizens trying to make our way home. Do your best, don’t harm others and always put yourself first,” she stated.

If you are struggling with mental health or are in need of support in this difficult time, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

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