Shopping Neon

A distant second to Eating as a favourite pastime is Shopping. The typical Penangite seldom go on a spending spree. Rather, they are nationally known for their frugalness which locals term

“kiam-siap” in Hokkien, or“kedekut” in Malay. Penangites would go that extra yard for a good bargain - in order to get their money’s worth, they follow the slogan: “Big, Cheap & Good;” (in Hokkien: Tua-tay, pang-gee ko ho-liau). Do not be surprised to find people bargaining for a few cents’ discount by the roadside stall. Having little money will not deter a Penangite from shopping. With just a ringgit for bus fare, they can wander from store to store to “window shop”.

On the other hand, affluence has enabled certain sectionsof  Penang society to spend freely. Testimonial to this is the sprouting of multi-million dollar megastores all over. Designer names and goods are also available for the image-conscious. For lower-end shopping of essentials and local goods,

there are the Malaysian-style Pasar Malam or street bazzars, and stretches of pre-war shophouses which sell everything from antiques, electronic items, clothes, and sundries to second-hand books.

Comparatively, goods and services in Penang are very affordable and cheap. A can of Coca-Cola costs RM1.10 (USD$0.44) and it is possible to get leather belts at RM12.00 (USD$4.80). The most foolhardy thing to buy here would be cars, as the government impose heavy tax levy on the import of cars. A BMW 328i series would cost RM190,000.00 (USD$76,000.00).

Need we say more?

The decline of the Ringgit's performance in the currency speculation fiasco has led to a Malaysian policy of spending less and saving more. In view of this, the Penangite's thrifty principle of "Big, Cheap and Good" is perhaps the way to go.

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