Transforming into a ‘high-income government’

From the rakyat’s point of view however, one wonders whether this is yet another manifestation of crony capitalism running smack into the face of the 1Malaysia concept.

By Jan L Yong, Malaysian Mirror

Our economy in bad shape? We have that from good authority. “We are lagging behind economically and are stagnating for over a decade.

“Malaysia is trapped in a low-value-added, low-wage and low-productivity structure,” Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah was said to have told an economic outlook conference, according to a recent AFP report.

Among its peers China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand, Malaysia’s economic growth over the past three years was second-lowest, he was quoted to have said. That means we are only better off than the Philippines and are losing the race to Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, countries once lagging behind us.

Both former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and present PM Najib Abdul Razak have acknowledged that our salary levels are comparatively low. Yet, look at recent proposed measures. Are they helping the rakyat or do they seem more like increasing the coffers of the government as well as being protective measures?Just look at the aborted End of Life policy for vehicles 15 years old and above. The reasoning seems valid. Our government is doing us a favour by ridding us of unsafe old vehicles on the road. But look deeper – other countries which have this policy like Singapore is doing it because they can’t afford to have too many cars on the road, plus the level of income of Singaporeans generally allows for upgrading to new vehicles after every 10 years or so.

No credible statistics

Compare this to Malaysia. Has any research or credible statistics been done to show that most accidents are caused by old vehicles over 15 years? From my enquiries, most accidents are caused by drivers’ negligence and not by the unroadworthiness of the vehicles. The fact is a 10 or 20-year old vehicle can be in tip-top condition if it’s maintained very well, while a two-year-old vehicle can be a scrap if the owner does not maintain it.

Furthermore, does the government expect retirees and out-of-work people to give up on their old cars and buy new cars on seven or nine-year instalments plans? Will they even get the hire-purchase loan in the first place? Many are not earning that kind of income and have to struggle to pay their monthly car instalments. Is the government aware of this? In these economically challenging times, is this the best policy?