Friday, March 25, 2011
We Malaysians are simply crazy about vehicles. The statistics quoted in The Nationmaster.com shows that we are ranked third overall; behind just the United States and Luxembourg with 641 vehicles per 100 people. So that roughly translates to 180 million vehicles on the road! OK maybe it's not like that but it simply shows our obsession with motor vehicles (which means cars, I believe nobody goes gaga over trucks and construction vehicles).
We still manage to get to such a 'coveted' spot despite the everyday grumbles (and which politicians try to exploit) that car prices in Malaysia is among the highest (if not THE highest) in the world, that the price of fuel is too high and that many of the highways are tolled. Any of those factors are actually enough to deter potential car owners, but no, not us! We like to say that we need to own cars because of the unreliable public transport. To a degree yes, it's true. But being a former public transportation commuter myself, part of the 'unreliability' has it roots in ourselves - there are simply too many cars on the road, choking up the roads hence slowing down the public transportation! It gets worse when a most households own more than one vehicle and everybody wants to use their vehicles at the same time. Not only these vehicles choke up the roads but they also gobble up parking spaces especially at apartments/condos!
Perhaps another measure of our obsession with cars can be measured by the number of car accessory and modification shops. Not content with having a car, a sizeable number of car owners spend a further hundreds and even thousands of Ringgit to modify their vehicles. These range from simple cosmetic additions to near total transformation of their car. Many a Proton Wira and Waja owners transform their rides to resemble Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - sometimes subtly, sometimes bordering on the ridiculous. Even beat up, rusty old buckets were given enhancements such as new engines and bloody noisy exhausts. Whatever they do, the modified vehicles can be classified to two - eye candy or eye sore! Oh there are also those who transform their cars into boombox on wheels.
Despite the high prices we still manage to choke our roads...I wonder how terrible the jams would be should car prices drop, oil prices fall and the tolls terminated......