After Buku Harapan, #UndiRosak most valid option

After Buku Harapan, #UndiRosak most valid option

 

By Hafidz Baharom

 

After reading the so-called Book of Hope marketed by Pakatan Harapan as their manifesto for the upcoming general election, I have to say that it leaves us truly no choice other than to spoil our votes.

Protect environment with cars and petrol?

 

Why does Pakatan still want to subsidise cars and petrol, whilst also promising to purchase 10,000 buses to better public transport nationwide?

 

As the party so gung-ho to promote environmental policy to the point of ridiculing free plastic bags, isn’t this coalition doing something rather hypocritical by promising cheaper, excise duty exempted cars and subsidised petrol?

 

Plus, within this “promise” lies the greatest con of all – what cars would actually qualify for the so-called subsidised petrol, being set at under 1300CC?

 

Well, an off the top search shows that the only local car that would qualify would be the Perodua Axia and below. Anyone with a Proton Iriz and above, sorry – you’re not going to get cheaper petrol.

 

10,000 buses, no BRTs?

 

Plus, can Pakatan explain how going on an Oprah Winfrey spree of “You all get a car”, will affect traffic in city centres for their 10,000 buses?

 

The roads will be congested so badly that even with such a massive number of buses makes no difference. The schedules would still be delayed due to traffic. Sadly, the Bus Rapid Transits (BRTs) did not make its way into the manifesto to actually make 10,000 buses make sense.

 

Don’t pay for education, buy a car first?

 

But more to the point, Pakatan is keen on removing PTPTN loans from impacting individual credit scores for non-payment. In fact, Pakatan goes so far as to even exempt payment for degrees and diplomas until Malaysians earn a gross salary of RM4,000.

 

And yet, no such limit is being advocated for car ownership. So, does Pakatan want every family and young household to start off with a car loan rather than pay forward the education of the next batch of students in universities?

 

Buy a house, even if you can’t afford one?

 

This is the same contradicting stance that Pakatan repeats when dealing with housing as well, by promising to get banks to somehow allow Malaysians to take loans to buy a home.

 

Do we really believe that banks are not calculating the risks on loan properly to the point of failing to issue out loans for homes to people, or is it because people don’t have enough income?

 

If it is the latter, what’s the point of talking to the banks, while not addressing the employers to raise salaries to the point of being able to afford a proper lifestyle?

 

Builders be lenders?

 

At the same time, there are plenty of questions on just what Pakatan is planning to do to achieve their manifesto promises. For example, the Rent-To-Own scheme by Pakatan will involve private developers as well as banks.

 

Does this mean that Pakatan will be getting BNM to grant a financial license to every single developer so that they can conduct this programme and even become money lenders?

 

Pay private healthcare, screw the public system

 

Now, this one just doesn’t make sense to me. Why is Pakatan insisting on helping private healthcare professionals, instead of developing more public clinics under the Ministry of Health?

 

Instead of actually building more clinics where you can get triage and primary treatment of ails for a mere RM1 under government subsidies, Pakatan is advocating giving out RM500 in a card for medical expenses to every B40 household – 2.68 million households.

 

This means that after actually reserving 4% GDP for healthcare, they want to spend about a billion ringgit to be handed out to the private sector?

Why not just build or even buy out private clinics to strengthen the public system, while also increasing salaries to match the private sector?

 

Where’s the money from?

 

One of the main grouses of this current Opposition coalition has always been that we need to reduce household debt and government debt – and their excuse has always been there isn’t enough money because the government is bloated.

 

And yet, they do not ever mention firing the civil service.

 

Instead, there will be a capping of only 3 ministers under the Prime Minister’s Office to reduce cost of governance – what are the other two, other than the MP made Minister of Law which will also be the Attorney General (also mentioned in the Buku Harapan)?

 

And with a switch from the GST to SST once again, as well as the excise duty exemption for the first car of each household, how much tax revenue are we looking at cutting down compared to the PMO reduction?

 

There is also an increased amount of money being dished out to committees and councils which don’t even mention costs. How much will the petrol subsidy cost on a monthly basis. Let’s not forget that they will still be giving out BR1M.

 

So, will we then see more income taxes to make this balance out? Perhaps even new taxes on capital gains and inheritance, which was mentioned in their Shadow Budget last year?

 

In fact, what are their targets in debt reduction for both government and household?

 

 

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2 thoughts on “After Buku Harapan, #UndiRosak most valid option

  1. These proposed populist measures of increased public transit on the one hand and petrol subsidies for cars under 1,300 cc coupled with lower duties on cars not doubt will conflict but considering that besides the Klang Valley, no other part of Malaysia has commuter trains, MRT, LRT, monorail and BRT, lower car and fuel prices will benefit especially the lower income group in parts of Malaysia currently lacking in decent public transit.

    However, I doubt petrol stations will be able to effectively enforce selling subsidies petrol only to cars which qualify, especially since filling of petrol is self-service, with control and receipt of payment being managed by staff at the cashiers at the station.

    Also, with payment with PIN & pay debit cards, what’t to stop someone filling up a 3,200 cc car with subsidies petrol.

    Perhaps they could give registered owners of cars of under 1,300 cc a card which they swipe before filling to enjoy the subsidy but what if that owner also has a car of higher capacity and uses that card to enjoy the subsidy when filling up that car as well.

    I foresee plenty of opportunities for abuse here.

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  2. To add to what I wrote above, Malaysia cannot emulate Singapore’s disincentives to car ownership, such as high additional registration fees and bidding for certificate of entitlement before one can even buy a car, since unlike Singapore which is one, highly developed, all urban city state, Malaysia comprises a mix of well developed, urban areas such as the Klang Valley, some major cities and towns, as well as semi-urban, semi-rural, rural and remote areas, most of which do not have alternatives to reliance on car and motorcycles for transport, due to poor and often unreliable public transit serving these areas.

    The high price of cars in Malaysia today is partly due to the tariffs to protect Proton and other Malaysian cars but a larger part of it is due to the appreciation of the Yen exchange rate since the mid-1980s and no government can do much about that.

    When I began my first job as a process engineer with NS Electronics (National Semiconductor) in Senawang in 1980, my starting pay was RM1,000 per month and a new Toyota Corolla 1,300 cc costs around RM14,000 and the duration of car loan repayments back then was three years.

    Back then, the Yen to US dollar exchange rate was around 250 yen to the US dollar.

    https://www.poundsterlinglive.com/bank-of-england-spot/historical-spot-exchange-rates/usd/USD-to-JPY#charts

    The exchange rate was around 260 yen to the US dollar when the first Proton, the Proton Saga made its debut in 1985 and soon after, the yen appreciated dramatically to around US$124 in mid 1988, by which time, not only did the price of foreign cars assembled in Malaysia shoot up but so did the price of Proton, whilst for a while, one could sell one’s used car at a profit.

    After all, since most of the key components or materials which went into Proton and Perodua cars are still imported from Japan, a stronger yen means higher prices in ringgit terms, especially since the ringgit’s depreciation against the US dollar since mid 2013, and moreso since the ringgit exchange rate plunged from RM2.50 to above RM4 to the US dollar in 1997.

    https://tradingeconomics.com/malaysia/currency

    As for 15 March 2018, the yen stood at 106 yen to the US dollar.

    In 2004 or 2009, I compared the price of a Toyota Vios in a car showroom in Bangkok (capital of the “Detroit of the East” and in Petaling Jaya and I its price in Thailand was about the equivalent RM10,000 less than in Malaysia and prices of a Vios 1.5 today ranges from RM74,980 to RM93,980 depending on model.
    https://toyota.com.my/vehicles/car/vios

    So apart from removing all duties on cars, how much more can any government, whether Pakatan or Barisan do to reduce the price of cars today, unless they find ways to strengthen the exchange rate of the ringgit versus the US dollar, Japanese yen and Korean won, as well as encourage the use of more local content at cheaper prices.

    As for petrol, its price at the pump has remained high even when the price of Brent Crude plunged below US40 per barrel in 2015 but has risen to US$62,34 today.

    https://www.oil-price.net/TABLE2/gen.php?lang=en
    To get the WTI oil price, please enable Javascript.

    The government, whether Barisan or Pakatan can do something, such as increase subsidies on petrol to bring prices down for consumers and perhaps do something to reduce costs in the supply chain from crude oil to petrol.

    With regards encouraging people in the Klang Valley to switch to using more public transit, the government could not only increase the number and coverage of KTM Komuter MRT and LRT lines but also extend the coverage of the public transit network with monorails and BRT lines connecting major MRT and LRT stations to cover the neighbourhoods within their vicinity, such as those within Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang and so forth, and supplement them with a larger number of taxis at affordable prices for people and families who need car transport on certain occasions.

    At the same time, to discourage driving one’s car in urban areas, the government could introduce fees to drive one’s private car into city centres, such as they do in Singapore, but unlike Singapore, exempt taxis, buses and delivery vehicles from such fees, to encourage people to use them instead of driving.

    This I believe would be a practical solution for Malaysia.

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