Bend Over…and Stay That Way

We are being screwed. Petrol subsidies have been taken away and its effect is being felt all around. That cascade effect. TV Smith almost fainted, he said. But actually, we have been screwed for a long time now. Just didn’t realise it.

Why do we feel it so much now? Prices have been going up all the time for as long as i can remember. What’s new?

The fact that no one is bothered about the average man’s salary. It hasn’t risen with the times. Everything else has. The price of cars, spare parts, cost of transportation, chicken, rice (and chicken rice) vegetables, damn near everything.

The civil servants largely earn peanuts. You may argue that the bumbling behemoth of bureaucracy is doing nothing anyway, but that’s another story for another day.The fact is that this group are a large consumer base.

Wages were largely kept low in Malaysia two decades ago as one of the measures to attract investment into the country. That is not happening much any more (fresh investments that is), but wages are still low.

To compound that, we have even lower wage earners from overseas doing not just menial jobs anymore, but are a crucial part of our service and manufacturing sector.

I’d like to think that the current predicament we face is due to management failure on the part of the government. Simply because of the lack of foresight when planning, as well as ad hoc populist decisions to “cushion” the blow that lands on the Malaysian public.

Shortsighted measures that alleviated the misery but didn’t solve the problem.The people were coddled when they shouldn’t have been.

In 1985, the national car industry was launched. To make it succeed, easy loan terms were introduced and tax on foreign cars was increased.

So everyone (from the mid and lower income groups) had a Saga and later, Iswara, Wira bla bla bla. There were not enough roads for these cars, so traffic jams became a norm in big cities especially in Klang Valley.

What choice did these fellas have? Public transport sucks. Housing development moved to the fringes of the city and necessitated the twice-daily exodus between work and home.

So the city highways came up. KL Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS), Damansara Puchong Highway (LDP), West KL Traffic Dispersal System (SPRINT), New Pantat Highway (NPE), Sungai Besi Expressway (Besraya), the Second Middle Ring Road (MRR2) among others.

Phew. All that infrastructure spending. Did it help much? I suppose. But at a huge cost, that we as road users bear daily. Why? So our Protons and Peroduas can stay on the roads.

You see how you and I have been coerced into this insidious plan? Suppose our public transport infrastructure was half decent, there would not have been such a big demand for cars then would it?

Then we wouldn’t be spending at least two hours each working day gridlocked, would we? Not only was the increase in cars so exponential that traffic infrastructure couldn’t keep up, but we didn’t have a choice but to hang on to these very cars because how else do get to work on time?

Talk about being screwed.

Now that the govt has largely lifted petrol subsidies, don’t you think it makes sense that cars at least are made cheaper? This utopian fantasy, if it ever happens, will sound the death knell for the local auto industry.

They do not have the consumer base big enough to take advantage of economies of scale. They survived under a protectionist economy that is no longer a feasible option for Malaysia under current conditions.

The govt has also announced a review of all those mega projects, so brace for further slash in economic activity. Slash in capital expenditure, reduction in the creation of economic activity and people saving instead of spending, are all bad for our economy.

It means no growth. In the meantime, cost of living is on an upward spiral, fueled by all these price rise.

Recession laa. Or the Americans would call it Stagflation.

They both mean the same. We are screwed.


3 thoughts on “Bend Over…and Stay That Way

  1. We ARE screwed…. If we have THAT attitude 😛

    I’m being optimistic. We need more optimists around to calm situation. heh heh.

  2. Welcome back Daniel.

    A u can see, I simply have to bitch. I’d like to think that actually i’m more resilient than what I painted here. But at the end of the day, what we need better governance and to personally build financial resilience, if not immunity.

    Sorry, i used “Resilient” thrice, including this one. Kinda drained up there.

  3. We have been screwed a long time already. Agreed.

    And now they have taken away the condom and lubricant. Oops..

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