Malaysia hawkers raise food prices

Be prepared to pay more for that plate of char kway teow the next time you head north for a meal.

Although fuel prices have dropped, hawkers in the Klang Valley, Penang and many urban areas in Malaysia have increased prices by between 10 and 20 per cent, citing costlier ingredients and the Chinese New Year festive period.

A bowl of noodles, for example, costs between 50 sen (S$0.20) and RM1 more, and the servings have also become smaller, reported Malaysia's The Star.

The National Consumer Complaints Centre's legal and dispute resolution manager Santhosh Kannan said there had been many complaints about hawkers who overcharged or reduced their portions.

"We've been getting frequent complaints since November. On average, the increase is between 30 and 40 sen, but for certain types of food, it is even up by RM2," he said.

Housewife Mary Chew, 50, said her regular wonton mee seller in Jalan Klang Lama raised the price by RM1 without any prior notice.

"A plate which used to cost RM5, is now RM6 with no extra ingredients," she said.

Several coffee shops in Bangsar and Kota Damansara have increased their prices by at least 10 per cent since the New Year.


Regular pork noodle stall customer A K Neoh, 35, said the seller not only increased the price from RM5.90 to RM6.50 last week, but also reduced the portion.

"Four years ago, a bowl cost RM4 and there was definitely more ingredients then," said the office worker, who has since boycotted the stall.

In Penang, soaring prices are putting a dent on the state's image as a hawker food paradise.

Ms Amy Wong, 36, said a mediumsized plate of char kway teow in George Town had been raised to RM6.50 since last week.

"The seller told me he had to charge RM1 more because the price of prawns had gone up to RM80 per kilo - RM20 more than in December," she said.

Federation of Malaysian Hawkers Association president Lee Teong Chwee admitted that members raised their prices because everything else had become expensive last month.

The federation has more than 100,000 members nationwide.

"Hawkers are struggling to cope with the unexpected spike in the cost of meat, vegetables and seafood," he said, adding that fuel costs were not a factor.

"Hawkers spend between RM50 and RM100 on fuel per month, so it is a minor expense."

Mr Lee said hawkers could not charge as they pleased because competition was stiff and they could end up losing customers.

This article was first published on Janaury 20, 2015.
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