What other choice do we have?

I stayed in PJ and worked in KL.  Even though my house is about 20 minutes walk from the nearest LRT station, I do sometimes walk to the LRT station and take the LRT down to work, changing train at the Masjid Jamed Station.

Taking LRT at rush hour is no fun at all. You are being squeezed like sardines, male and female alike, in a coach which smells of stale air. It is in fact downright unhygienic since if someone with flu sneezes in the coach, most of the passengers in that coach would probably be infected with the same virus. It is also very scary especially to the ladies, since even if you feel someone else is groping you, you can’t even move to avoid and fence off the move.

That is why in most days I still drive, since the other option of taking a bus is totally out, as a bus trip will takes hours to reach my work place.

So in KL and most other urban centres in Malaysia, a car is considered a necessity, never mind owning a car may contribute to green house gas emission and help to pollute the atmosphere.

Malaysians simply have no other choice. In KL, without a car, you are like without your legs. LRT serves only a limited areas; taking bus is often too time consuming and may entail 2 or 3 changes of buses.  Taking taxi is an option that cannot be exercise on a daily basis, since it is simply too costly to do so.  I would not even advise you to ride a bicycle– though I would prefer personally to ride one if there are less traffic and less driver-killer types on the roads– since by doing so, the probability of you landing in the morgue or hospital ICUs are so high

So car is a necessity. But car prices are so high that for those who start work, the instalments towards payment of his car can be a bg big portion of his take home pay.

A classmate of mine sent me an email listing the price of some of the cars in Malaysia and USA> Just compare and you will see that Malaysians are paying the government (and maybe  someone  else) a hefty amount , billions of ringgits literally, in overpriced cars.

……………………………Malaysian prices  (in RM)                    USA prices

Toyota camry2.4           170,000                                                     69,000

BMW 535i                          450,000                                                   155,000

volkswagen GTI 2.0      200,000                                                     85000

even in Indonesia, things are cheaper:

 

…………………………….Malaysia                                                      Indonesia

Toyota Altis                    112,000                                                     46,000

Honda Jazz                      108,000                                                     36,000

We Malaysians of all racial background are paying so much higher for our cars it is like most of us are working to earn  to pay for our cars. We are also earning to pay for something that will help clog up our roads, so that we have no choice but spend  hours behind wheels stuck in jams everyday and everywhere we go.

 

This is money that we can and should save for our children’s education, our healthcare, our old age, or purchase a roof over our heads,  but we have to spend it on cars, since our public transport is so inefficient that owning a car is now a necessity.

When the public transport is efficient, like in London, few people actually drive. Most will take the underground, and they have so many criss-crossing lines that in fact everywhere within the city is  reachable by the ‘tube’.

But in Malaysia, what other choice do we have except to sit behind wheels and get used to spend most of your evening hours in the unproductive pursue of keeping other equally hapless drivers company ?

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. foo
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 13:48:04

    The main reason why we have this mess, traffic jams especially in Klang valley, is because Dr.M ,the genuis , got his and the country’s priorities all wrong. Dr.M made a great mistake by setting up national car makers Proton and then Perodua.

    Now it is important to sell as many local cars as possible. Resulting in protection for local cars and higher cost for imported ones. Yes, jobs was created by the local car industries but at what cost ?.Why can’t he create a local bus or mass transport production industry instead?.It too would provide jobs to the masses.

    We should have invested more money in mass transport infrastructures in the early years. Build more MRT / LRT lines and buy more modern buses for major cities like KL and surroundings, JB and Penang. Now it’s a never ending cycle-more people, more cars, more noise and pollution, more roads and parking spaces to be built, more tolls to collect and more jams to suffer. It is an error China is also making right now.

    A problem Malaysia faces is the lack of foresight (right policies for long benefits) or helicopter view in our leaders. Vision 2020 is just some public relation gimmick. Singapore’s LKY concentrated on providing the best mass or public transport systems and discourage private car ownership. Likewise with policies on public housing in S’pore compared with M’sia. The use of CPF to build flats/houses to be sold to the contributors. Here the EPF uses our money to “God knows what” investments, giving us unsatisfactory dividends yearly.EPF contributors are forced to rely on greedy housing developers for expensively priced homes.

    Like

  2. John
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 14:44:56

    Mahathir is the culprit !

    He was the one who caused foreign cars like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai etc to become very expensive and unaffordable to most Malaysians.
    Average income People just have to do with the crappy local cars which are overpriced and unsafe.

    I bet he too deliberately ignored the need for an efficient public transport system in order to sell more local cars.

    You ever wonder why road accident mortality rate is so high in Malaysia?
    Wonder no more , it is because the quality of local cars which lack basic safety features.

    Like

  3. clearwater
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 16:37:44

    It is no coincidence the price of cars sky rocketed in the 1980’s with the advent of Proton and the import permit. Prior to this great car scam operated by the government in Malaysia, cars were affordable. A 1500cc locally assembled car in pre-1980 cost a new graduate’s annual salary. It is no longer true of course. It may now literally cost him an arm and a leg as well in an accident because of poor safety features .

    The fact is that in this scam, consumers were compelled to pay excessive prices for cars. Who benefited? Yes, the government through high import duties and taxes. But also a very select group of cronies tapped on to the AP grapevine. One well known car importer left behind an estimated RM3 billion estate when he died. Different factions of the family are still fighting
    for their share. And there many such AP kings still driving around. So why can’t APs’ be openly auctioned by the government? Or the system discarded altogether? Why give them to the rich & connected to get even richer? Where is the fairness in this? And why?

    Like

  4. wassup
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 17:31:20

    Good doctor, so many livable spot in places like Penang. Stop complaining. Move out to ‘less stress zone’. KL is hell. Change from within….

    Like

  5. Gnauh
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 08:49:07

    (1) even if we did not start up the national car project in the 1980s, there will still be jobs for the masses. If you recall at that point in time, compared to other countries in South East Asia, Malaysia has the best infrastructure and is politically stable then, major car makers could have start up factories here but for the discriminatory policies in order to protect our so called ‘pride’ and ‘joy’ – the national car. These foreign investment went to Thailand instead. Our then PM is in actual fact, the father of the automotive industry in Thailand.

    (2) Although I was brain washed in school that we should be proud of our national car project but reality sets in after so many years. Our national cars are expensive for the kind of quality and safety features that it offer. We should just swallow the bitter pill and call off this project. The government should not subsidise this project, let it float and compete in the open market. If it survives, good for them, if not good riddance. for the record, Iswara was sold for about 20 years since its introduction. Perdana is still being sold since its introduction in 1995. Proton owners still face power window problems despite the car being less than 5 years old. Waja door handles will break – come on, even a 15 year old entry level Japanese car does not face this problem. The newer variants; Waja, Gen2 have its unique set of problems. The cause of it all is substandard vendors/suppliers and lack of QC. All these problems are well documented in car forums.

    (3) without any export volume, our local market is just too small to support an automotive industry. Exports will only happen if we improve our standards. But, I do not see much improvement since its inception in the 80s. In UK, the prices of Protons are cheaper than what we are paying here. How is that possible? especially with the freight charges etc. and they get better specs too.

    Like

  6. CYC
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 14:19:56

    We voted to retain PROTON, otherwise it would have gone. The gist of the matter is we prefer to look after a mad man’s vision than welfare of the ordinary citizens.

    Besides an efficient MRT/LRT, we can continue to enjoy efficient bus service if the old structure were maintained till today. Why do we need a single bus service provider-Rapid who only knows : 1. Engage expensive consultants, 2. Acquire more new buses, 3. Create a giant organization with too many redundant high ranking officers, and finally, no tangible result to show after donkey years in operation but only growing complaints.

    Transportation cost constitute a big portion of low and medium income earners expenses, but our CPI keep reporting distorted low inflation rate from year to year. Its either our administration is cheating or we are cheating ourselves. Stupid citizens breeds stupid administration and stupid cabinet.

    THere are only two options : 1. Scrap Proton, or 2. Rope in an established auto maker to jointly develop Proton, and for haven forgo the grip on management when u are not up to the mark. By doing so, we can get rid of the subsidy mentality and hence competitive pricing.

    Like

  7. disgusted
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 17:22:14

    Dr M’s policy was a “muka” policy, trumpeting we were the best in every damn thing, from climbing stupid mountains to car-making project and everything the longest, biggest and God knows eventually ending up with the most “stupidist” and idiotic government of today.

    Now they better wear a mask and like the Chinese colloquial saying, these powerful buggers don’t even know how to write the Chinese character, “shameful”.

    I fully agreed that stupid Malaysians voted in the stupid government. Everybody deserves this unless the voting pattern changes.

    Like

  8. millipede
    Jun 17, 2010 @ 04:01:43

    a little misleading on the price of the cars in US for the suggested models. Those are not the amount people pay in US. The MSRP for Toyota Camry 2011 is about USD20K, The overall national average payment ( 5 years )for owning a BMW 535i is approx. USD68K. As for VW GTi MSRP is approx. 24K. You’re making a direct conversion of RM to USD without listing the MSRP in USD, therefore a little bit of confusion for the readers. How cheap are the cars in Indonesia?? Please list the prices of certain car models otherwise it is confusing.

    Like

  9. DRAGON TAI
    Jun 17, 2010 @ 14:47:21

    THIS HAPPENED WHEN THE ‘RAAYAT’ DON’T COOPERATE. I ALWAYS JUDGE AND EDUCATE MY COLLEGUES ON DOS AND DON’TS. I DON’T USE LOCAL CARS AND I DON’T PUMP PETRONAS. ASK
    YOURSELF WHY!?
    MAHATHIR’S ADMISTRATIONS ONLY BENIFITS THE RICH AND THE POOR. HE IS HELPING THE RICH TO GET RICHER, MORE POWERFUL AND CORRUPTED. I WOULD LIST MAHATHIR AS THE WORST PM AS OF NOW.
    YET MANY RAAYAT ARE NOT ABLE TO THINK AND FIGURE OUT. LET’S JUST SAY 80% OF RAAYAT DON’T BUY LOCAL CARS; WHAT WOULD HAPPEN?
    NOT ONLY PROTON OR PRODUA HAVE TO CLOSE SHOP. GUESS WHAT – NAZA WOULD HAVE TO CLOSE SHOP TOO! RAAYAT, PLEASE THINK AND WAKE UP!

    Like

  10. AcHoo!
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 09:37:03

    Yes and they want to reduce subsidies for the people when we are already subsidising them by paying exorbitant prices for neccessities like cars, tolls for using them, paying for their palaces and even for parlaiment house??
    Why is it other much older countries are still using their old ones??

    Like

  11. clearwater
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 12:31:57

    millipede,

    Give Dr Hsu some leeway. The car price comparisons between Malaysia and USA that he used serves as a rough indicator of the wide price differential between the 2 respective countries. It’s to illustrate a point and meets the purpose. The same model car in Malaysia and USA may also differ in terms of accessories loading but who’s arguing…….

    Like

  12. Dr Hsu
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 15:23:08

    clearwater,

    You are right. It is just taken as an illustration that car price is many times of many countries.

    In fact, his figure is very near mine. He quoted Camry 2011 as USA 20,000 which is equivalent to 68,000 at an exchange rate of 1=3.4.
    Volkawage GTI was quoted as USA24,000 which is same as 81600, slightly cheaper than what i quoted.. US RM excahge rate is not static and like you mentioned, specifications too vary…

    Like

  13. WEC
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 08:35:37

    An imported Toyota Yaris sedan in Australia cost A$22,000 but a blue collar worker (mechanic, technician, construction workers, etc) earn A$40,000 to A$80,000 (40 hours week and 20 days leave) per annum after tax

    In Malaysia, a Toyota Vios (equivalent to Yaris model but assembled in Thailand) cost RM70,000 but we guys after tax pocket in only RM12,000 to RM30,000 if lucky) and we have to work in a risk envronment for 6 days@10 hours/day and only 7-14 days leave pr year.

    In term of currency conversion, it’s the same price for this Toyota model except that we are underpay.

    Like

  14. petestop
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 18:41:07

    It is a fact that we Rakyat are made to subsidise the Incompetent Govt.

    And the thing is that there are so many ignorant Rakyat who keep voting them in, hoping for subsidy from the Govt.

    It is like robbing from yourself to subsidise your.

    What utter stupidity.

    Like

  15. Indonesia Cars
    Jun 30, 2010 @ 13:09:07

    I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. Nice Blog and keep posting🙂

    Like

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