Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Promise That Is Warm As A Fowl's Manure

One of the views that were shared by the Dutch, English and even the Portuguese on the natives of the land from the 16th century until now is still relevant today and it has still been proven that the myth of the lazy native still exists. Negative perceptions, describing about the natives have been documented by an UMNO research paper in the early 1970s entitled the "Mental Revolution."

Of course, I definitely would like to find time to comment on why majority of Malaysians are still unwilling to change, apart from a few identified factors that have been identified that have been commented by other people such as from the election campaigning perspective and the mindset of people in certain states, but given that this piece has been written at a public location, I might find some time to comment on one attribute that is hindering overall national progress.

The negative view that was given by our then colonial masters to describe the attributes of the Malays was that the Malays have the tendency to make promises as describe by the Malay idiom "hangat-hangat tahi Melayu" or the translation in English would be "as warm as the fowl's manure". What it means is that once it has been promised, a party would do it well at the beginning but efforts undertaken by them would be diminished in the subsequent period / years after the original undertaking. And given of the latest case of car price talk, I felt it is appropriate to frame that problem to the issue just as to state my point.

Out of the desparation to get it's diminishing urban and possibly a certain small percentage of rural support, BN added in at the very last moment of one of the PR's manifesto cases to be implemented, which was the gradual reduction of the car excise tax. Base on the parliamentary-seat results of the election, it seems that together with the die-hard old timers that refuse to change, many fence sitters fell for that promise.

So we thought that we could see the same thing that PR promised that BN would do before the year is over that they would reduce the car prices. After all, one of the problems that many people face is replacing their worn and torn cars that have aged more than seven years for newer and more efficient cars. To compound the existing problem, the car insurance premium has gone up by another 15% across the board. It means that more people face problem with the money in the pockets since you need to have an insurance before you are allowed to renew your vehicle road tax. 

Presently, things are not going well. And from what Tok Pa said about only reducing car prices by 2017/2018 at most, as what Tony Pua said in his letter in Malaysiakini, it is indirectly signalling to the lower-level people in particular to forget about buying newer cars. But hold on, didn't Najib Razak promised about reducing car prices in stages? 

“As promised, car prices will be reduced in stages until 2017. Insya Allah, I will ensure that every promise is fulfilled." - Najib on 28 May
"Car prices will not be reduced (at one go). Prices will be reduced in accordance with market forces" - Mustapa Mohamad on 28 May

Sounds contrasting isn't it? Now it's almost a month since the general elections and the new cabinet has been sworn in the presence of the King, so where's that happy hamper that every car buyer is waiting for? 

Maybe to show that promise is a equivalent to an Indian capati, I would suggest people who are buying a new car to pay according to the actual price minus the additional excise tax. You are already paying for service and import tax already together so why pay extra when that money has been found to be misused? Let's give an example: a Mazda 3 selling at RM 100K, 1.6 is actually selling at RM 56K, with import and service tax included, and insurance counted in. $44K balance should been used to pay as a deposit for an average apartment in Kuala Lumpur that sells around RM 450K.

Motor scrapping and old motor exporting is actually a lucrative business, especially that Africa now needs a lot of those vehicles for those poor natives to afford it so, I don't see why there are more excuses of not reducing car prices except to enrich the fat cats whose income "solely" depend on those exorbitant cash.

So it seems that people who voted for BN have either been mislead about that promise or are actually as what Mental Revolution said: not truthful of themselves. If any of the people that belongs to the latter, there's something wrong with the logic. Why pay two times to buy one car whereas you can actually use the extra money for investment, or for those young and working professionals use it as deposit to buy a new house to stay? I just would hope that whoever defends BN with such crazed would suddenly rant about having a hard time of getting one car like that when you don't earn that much money as the rich would do and yet being willing to be manipulated by the wily old man Mahathir for his own personal ends indirectly.

I am sure many nay sayers would definitely come out with the conventional argument of "closing off one source of income" with that excise tax, but since Proton is still yet to perform at the satisfactory level on their own despite plenty government assistance, stripping them of the assistance would psychologically get them to think and work hard on putting their foot on their own on the global level. There are some of us who would gape in awe over shiny and prestigious cars that our Singaporean friends drive into the country but yet showed their other side of themselves by defending what is illogical and incorrect without being honest with themselves.

What Tok Pa said about that matter is exactly the problem that our previous English colonial masters described of the natives: promises as warm as a fowl's manure. In plain English, it is called as not walking your talk, since Tok Pa is part of the current incumbent government. But that commentary was written over 100 years ago, still relevant but it no longer confines to just one race of people in Malaysia but instead everyone of us.

Excerpt of Tony Pua's letter in Malaysiakini:

Umno president, Najib Abdul Razak announced that, if the BN is returned to power, it would “revamp the National Automotive Policy to gradually reduce car prices by 20-30 percent and increase the competitiveness of the national cars”.

Yesterday, however, International Trade and Industries Minister Mustapa Mohamed - who is in charge of automotive policies - announced that car prices will only be reduced after another five years and not in the near term.

In effect, the BN government is telling Malaysians that they can stop dreaming of cheaper cars for the next five years, and if car prices drop at all, it will be after the 14th general election.

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