No Mood. I was asking a friend over a cup of kopi the other day on how he was. He quipped ‘No Mood’. As I tried to cheer him up by buying him his favourite yau char kueh and ham chim peng to go with the kopi we ordered, we began a candid discussion.
It is a time of self reflection he said. This is a time when one wonders if we really made it as a mature society. In fact, despite the various economic reports of growth, he cannot feel it. People do not seem to be buying and business is at a standstill. He owns a fleet of lorries. Logistics is hard work.
The current sentiment we agreed with was that of ‘No Mood’. He claimed that if we had run a short poll today asking how people felt by just giving a 3 option answer of ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘No Mood’ to the question of ‘Are you Happy with the Malaysia’s Economy’ you would likely get a huge response to ‘No Mood’ or even worse, a ‘No’. It is like Bhutan’s ‘Gross Happiness Index he said. People in a happy mood, do more. As it is now, he believed, people are not happy.
Travelling overseas now is an expensive affair. It is not because of the tickets but because of the exchange rate which makes the Ringgit so small compared with the USD, AUD and even Singapore. Even going to Bangkok is more expensive as our Ringgit buys less Baht. There goes the so called quick and affordable holidays.
Even going around kopitiams becomes an expensive affair. A bowl of noodles seem to be creeping up by the 50 sen. Bowls of noodles costing RM6 per bowl before now cost RM6.50 per bowl in a space of 1 year. In shopping centres, it is worse. It is over RM10 per bowl. On average, the price is near double the price at kopitiams. Though they offer more portions, but who could afford on a single wallet trip?
As he thanked me for buying him his favourite snacks and kopi as he could save cost he said, he hoped this would also turn into me buying him dinner next time. We laughed. Yes, our money buys less today and very prevalent. No Mood he said. Even going to look for nice parks is rare when he wants to unwind with nature. The park which Subang Jaya has is in bad condition. The jogging path is getting from bad to worse and he mentioned his old car got broken into when the somehow picked his car door lock. His old Manchester United jersey with Cantona emblazoned on it was stolen along with his sun glasses. I jokingly said perhaps he should now support Manchester City or Liverpool. He said, ‘That would never happen!’ chuckling away.
It is also disheartening to hear that tolls would still be around. It is disappointing that the same issues plaguing the enforcement of transport remains at ground zero. All the talk of change remains at the top. Buses speed along highways on the fast lanes. Lorries and trucks do the same. It is now his ongoing reminder to his drivers to not follow such behavior when they are tempted by the actions of others. Motorcycles do not use the motorcycle lanes. ‘What change’ he lamented. All we get is news coverage of walking the talk and giving goodie bags. Even more perplexing is the Youth Minister now negotiating on bringing Go Jek, an Indonesian born initiative into Malaysia. Is that going through the correct procedure? ‘No Mood’ he said.
It seems lawlessness and disrespect comes to fore more than rule of law which we all wanted. I asked him, ‘Has corruption ended in the realm of ground zero?’ He looked at me and said, ‘You got whiskey in your kopi issit? You still in lalaland kah? Maybe you watch too many dramas on TV. Abuden…still have lah! Nothing changed. Some cases, even worse!’
He did not want to elaborate more he said otherwise some spies may be lurking in the kopitiam and tell the officers to mark him. ‘You never know lah!’ he added. We continued chatting and wondered why even now we have extremist thinking in Malaysia. It seems that we are threading into a territory scarier than before. You read about permanent residents getting more protection than citizens. You read about foreigners murdering citizens. You read about people saying they are superior to you in race, religion or connections.
We were also amused that stalls are starting to use e wallets with Touch N Go, Boost and QR pay by Maybank. Perhaps this is the new era. That is the only progressive element made the past few years and it helps with hygiene in touching money and also with security. Then again. The fear of security is the same as hiding your money in various parts of clothing on your body when going out, he said. We laughed as we reminisce how we used to put them in socks, secret pockets and even inside the shoe.
Perhaps the only thing which has not changed in the kopitiam we were in is the taste of the kopi and the snacks. The smell of freshly roasted and grounded kopi drenched in hot water in a sock still tasted good. The cup is warmed to retain the heat. Even the ham chimp peng is good. You could still dunk the yau char kueh into your kopi without people looking at you with bewildered looks.
In the end we agreed that we have ‘No Mood’ for stupid statements by Ministers and unfulfilled promises. The economy is not as good as the reports. You do not have to be a professor to think so. The general feel states it. Just look at the shopping centres, he said. ‘Sure can find carpark one’ Why? ‘No Mood lah’