"The prices of all vegetables are a lot more expensive, kangkung not excluded. To say that it had gone down is wrong," said Noor, a vegetable stall worker, Tuesday. A bundle of the stringy vegetable that is a favourite with belacan (shrimp paste) sells at RM2 per bundle.
However, what once used to be a big bundle has drastically reduced in size, thus requiring a family of four to purchase at least two bundles to have enough to cook after discarding the roots.
The vegetable was a war-time favourite as it easily grows anywhere, especially in drains and ditches. It was mentioned by Agnes Keith in one of her books as being boiled and served with a small helping of steamed rice to Prisoners of War and that she soon got used to its rubbery texture when interned with her family in Kuching.
Najib cited the vegetable as an example of price fluctuation on Sunday.
He said the government was heavily criticised when prices go up but never given the credit when the price of kangkung went down.
"Maybe if the Prime Minister becomes our supplier, then we would have cheaper kangkung-lah," jested Noor.
Another trader, Mohamad Amin said there is no sudden increase of the people buying the vegetable.
"It is not really a high-class vegetable. It grows wherever there is water.
Even then, it is not very cheap. Our suppliers are selling kangkung, and other vegetables, at very high prices nowadays," he sighed.
Meanwhile, in Kunak, planted kangkung, unlike its cousin which grows in any moist place, is being sold at RM1 a bundle.
"Most of my customers would prefer this type because it tastes better when eaten raw," said a trader.
A farmer with a kangkung farm, Ahmad, 41, said he usually plants kangkung in his backyard after he returned from work in the nearby oil palm plantation.
"Usually, it takes between three and five days before you can see its tiny buds sprouting out of the earth," said the small-time supplier.
Ahmad found the recent hype about kangkung being cheap on the Internet quite funny. "Kangkung is getting free publicity," he quipped.