How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Buying a car: when affordability is not a problem but size is

Different companies have different ways of providing perks for their executives. Some provide company cars for their exclusive use; some provide pool cars to be shared among employees for work use only; some prefer paying staff's travelling expenses based on mileage and other claims; and so on.
For those who owned cars before, depreciation must be the most depressing part of ownership, followed by petrol and maintenance costs. Therefore, being provided with a company car is most welcome because it takes off a large item from an executive's list of  monthly expenses.

I had come across a company's cost-cutting exercise which included selling off a fleet of sales personnel's cars and replaced with their personal cars, entitling them to mileage claims. Like any zero-sum game, what is beneficial to a company is at the expense of employees, so we can imagine the adverse reaction from them.

Anyway, coming back to company policies on cars for employees. I was told of a company's directive to their executives to buy only cars of a minimum price (to reflect on their status within the company) with a suggested list of cars. I believe it costs nothing to the executive as the monthly repayments will be covered by his or her car allowance, but such allowance is considered taxable income. Basically, what is deductible for tax purposes by company is an income to recipient. But the unusual problem happens to be the executive's reluctance to have such a big car! I am sure this would not be a problem had the company's policy provide for company cars bought and maintained by the company, or to save the headache, by providing leased cars instead.

Though most people welcome big and luxurious cars, there are some who prefer smaller ones, especially if they have to pay for them. Again there are exceptions. There were two instances with markedly different mindsets: one who cannot bear to pay too much for vehicles (fast depreciating assets) and rather use money for further investments in landed properties (almost guaranteed appreciation over a period of years); and another who owns a number of luxury cars. Often, the main difference was because one has to pay from his own pocket while the other is provided with company cars by virtue of his directorships in different companies. But sometimes, even company cars are limited not by affordability but by choice of a frugal major shareholder!

There is another case where an executive has a special preference for a certain model, eg. Suzuki SX4 SUV. For that price, Hyundai Elantra was suggested. But his reason for rejecting that was because his company's managers are using company cars like Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and Elantra is almost as big in size so it can be embarrassing for him! What a strange way to choose a car which he is buying for himself, I thought. By the way, there is  a Penang Hokien joke on the name Suzuki - it sounds like 'losing it all'!

Another thing which I find most amusing in terms of ownership and expense: people driving Mercs and BMWs but reluctant to pay parking fees. They would rather park at free spaces (sometimes, double-park and often inconveniencing others) or take their chances until they heard warning of parking attendant issuing tickets! Often, we hear of people who use big expensive cars complaining about high petrol or diesel prices. This reminds me of the joke about a Rolls Royce salesman who said snobbishly, 'If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it.'

Sometimes, I find it ironic that some who can afford the most expensive cars are reluctant to buy such cars because they prefer simplicity in life or they would rather keep a low profile because they do not want to attract unnecessary attention. But then again, there are those who would try so hard to show they are richer than they really are, by displaying some expensive cars.

In Malaysia, we have been unfairly made to pay much higher for vehicles because of our own national cars! How ironic. We would have thought that producing our very own products would normally result in cheaper prices. But not here. Somehow, with political interference and our morbid fear of meritocracy, we have to pay dearly to protect and maintain inefficient producers.

When campaigning, BN tried to compete with Pakatan's proposal to reduce car prices by 20-30% in the first year. After election, it looks as though it is over 5 years. Of course, after years of protection, we cannot simply dismantle without affecting all those in the production chain who relied on it. But then again, if we don't make the first step, we will never start.


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