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Malaysians tightening belts for New Year

Higher prices on basic goods are affecting celebrations for many

Malaysians tightening belts for New Year
Offerings made during the Chinese New Year celebrations
C.Y. Lai, Penang

February 2, 2011

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Western New Year celebrations are barely over, but many Malaysians are now enjoying Lunar New Year, a major festival and national holiday in a country that has a large Chinese minority. However, celebrations this year have been hit by rising prices for many essential goods such as gasoline, cooking gas, sugar and food items. This has been caused by high inflation rates across Asia and also the government’s decision last year to gradually cut subsidies on essential items to reduce the national deficit. recently spoke to several Chinese Catholics in Penang on how they are coping with the price hikes and how they will affect their festive celebrations. Joyce Lee says she tries to live a simple lifestyle. “I look for discounts or sales when buying household items. As for a luxury item . . . I ask myself, ‘Is it a need or a want?’ The wants can wait.” Lee regularly donates money to her parish and she says the rising cost of living will not deter her from donating. “Acts of charity are an integral part of Christian living,” she said. A 41-year-old man said food is important to Chinese people, especially during the festive season, so he won’t cut down on food expenses for his family. But rather save on new clothes.
   Traditional festivities during    celebrations in a Penang church
“We will get some clothes for the children, but my wife and I don’t will still wear last year’s clothes,” he said. A single woman pensioner in her 60s says she is not much affected by the rising cost of consumer products because normally she is already very careful with her spending. On donating to charities, she pledged not to give less but would hesitate giving more. One mother with grown-up children said she will also continue to donate to Church charities but she complained there have been too many church fund-raising activities of late. On rising consumer prices, she says, “The only positive thing I see out of this is that it makes me think twice about wasting food.”   Related reports Catholics deal with effects of inflation Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year Mass ML13123.1639
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