Rosmah Mansor

Rosmah Mansor, pictured with husband and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, left. Pic: AP.

 

We have to make beautiful clothes to attend functions, but the prices are way too high. For those who can afford, it’s all right. But what about housewives like us, with no income?

So says Rosmah Mansor, the free-spending wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is not happy with the prices charged by the hairdressers and tailors who visit her home.

In comments quoted by news portal Malaysia Insider Monday, Rosmah complained of the 1,200 ringgit (US$330) cost of having her hair done, and the 500 ringgit she pays to have dresses tailored.

“It is really hard to make tailored clothes these days. Their prices come up to RM500, and I am speaking as a representative of a housewife that buys made-to-order clothes,” she added.

The comments – made at a public event to discuss the introduction of a new consumer tax in Malaysia – were quick to anger many in Malaysia, where the official minimum wage is 9,000 ringgit per month. In reality, most Malaysians survive on far below this. The Malay Mail Online reported last year:

Out of almost 7.8 million working Malaysians, the median salary for 2012 and 2011 was stagnant at RM1,500. In 2010, it was slightly less at RM1,480. … the preliminary report on the latest Household Income Survey showed the median stood at RM4,258, this year.

Anger at Rosmah’s comments did not take long to appear on Twitter:

The Prime Minister’s wife has long had an uneasy relationship with the Malaysian public and regularly receives sharp criticism for her lavish lifestyle and insensitive comments.

The New York Times reported earlier this month:

A notable episode involved the Birkin bags: A series of photos that went viral on social media in Malaysia showed Ms. Rosmah holding at least nine of the purses. They typically cost between $9,000 and $150,000 apiece.

invoices and other documents obtained by The Times show millions of dollars in jewelry ordered for Ms. Rosmah in Hong Kong in 2008 and 2009 — diamond and emerald rings, and diamond, emerald and ruby bracelets.

According to a recent report by Asia Sentinel, Rosmah’s lavish lifestyle and love of money could be at the heart of an acrimonious split in the powerful Razak family:

“The brothers openly criticize Rosmah at dinner functions and family events,” a well-wired source told Asia Sentinel.  “I have heard them myself. Nazir’s family has moved to Oxford, where he spends 60 to 70 percent of his time. His elder brother Nizam spends time with his family in Boston. The two elder brothers Johari and Nazim also cannot get along with Rosmah.”