I went to my usual barber today for a haircut. I like going to this barber because his shop is within walking distance of my home in Putrajaya and he decorates his salon with quirky old antiques. He is quick – I rarely spend more than two minutes in the chair but maybe that is an indication of my lack of hair as much as his scissor skills. Best of all he is cheap, just RM8 for a basic cut.
Today however there was a notice stuck on the mirror indicating a revised tariff. It is still RM8 for Malaysians but the new charge for non-citizens is RM12. OK that is still pretty cheap but it is slightly annoying because, as far as I know, I could be his only non-citizen customer! Perhaps I shall have to try claiming the Senior tariff next time.
Here in Malaysia we are used to having separate charges applied to foreigners in place like museums. I think that is fair enough especially for services which are paid for, or subsidized by, the government. But for private enterprises like a barber shop it is less justified and seems a bit discriminatory. After all, those of us on the Malaysia My Second Home scheme are partly attracted to Malaysia by its low cost of living. If we are going to be charged 50% more for everything that attraction disappears. What next – a separate foreigners-only queue in the supermarket?
Having said all that, I cannot complain too much. I can still fill my car up with subsidized petrol at around 38 pence per liter (that’s what people in UK were paying in 1984!).