If you managed to catch the frontpage cover news on New Straits Times (Thursday 2/2/06), it was an article on the cost of living among 128 cities in the world. The article even had a sub-heading "This is one ranking to be happy about". The top 10 most expensive cities in the world were:
Kuala Lumpur came in at #95 while Singapore was the most expensive city in the region coming in at #24. While I agree that this is one ranking we do not want to be high up, it was the journalist comments which angered me no end. Apparently it cost a Norwegian US$57,230 to buy a family sedan, US$443 to register the vehicle, US$2,619 for insurance and US$1.98 for a litre of unleaded petrol. He went on to cite the wonderful example of Malaysia, where you can buy a 2,499cc car for US$41,409, pay US$65.24 to register the vehicle, US$585.11 for insurance and just US$0.42 for unleaded petrol.
This meant that the person in Oslo would have spent US$60,292 to get the car on the road while the KL-ite would have had to fork out US$42,059.35 to do the same. AND THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A GOOD THING??? That is just bad journalism, because a Norwegian earns an average of US$62,700 a year while a Malaysian's per capita income comes in at US$10,400. OK, the Norwegian pays 43% more than a Malaysian for their car, but their pay is 6 times a Malaysian's pay!!! A Norwegian can pay off their car with just one year's salary but it will take a Malaysian 4 years to do the same. Even if you add another 20% to the Norwegian price tag for a high cc car, they are still way better off.
I agree that most items under cost of living in Malaysia are low, but the one big ticket item (car) is ridiculous. If there was a ranking on how much it would cost to buy a similar car in various cities in the world, I betcha that KL would rank in the top 5 out of 128. Now why is that?? To protect our wonderful car industry?? A car is not a luxury item for those living in Malaysia, you need the car to get around. You may want to impose a luxury tax to get more cars off the road provided you already have in place a fantastic public transport system (but let's not get there now). Enough is enough, stop eating into a Malaysian's pay packet for something that is so uneconomically priced.
Yes, our petrol is cheap, but the petrol reserves belong to Malaysians (not the government but Malaysians), ... shouldn't we enjoy the benefits, I mean, some Middle East countries even give petroleum royalty checks to their citizens. So that is not a good argument.