Salaries in Malaysia are not going to go up drastically anytime soon. Meanwhile, inflation continues on its persistent march up.
That means, for us average wage earners, the value of our income will slowly, slowly fall because prices go up faster than wages. That’s just economics.
Though its tempting to clutter this post with CPI tables and charts that show the relationship between inflation and wages (which you can find at the economist’s blog by the way), most people who have to observe how they spend their money can tell you how much price increases have affected their lifestyles, via food, medicine, education, etc.
Since the likelihood of all of us getting big increments in the near future is slim, any kind of relief would be welcomed with wide open hands.
So let’s talk about car prices.
Malaysians have a love affair with cars.
Maybe it’s our really good highways, or the fact that our subsidized fuel makes it among the cheapest in this region, or that we just love those purring metal beasts, but despite the fact that buying a car would cost you an arm and a leg and your nose, we would still gladly sign over a significant portion of our income for the next 5 years just so we can own our own set of wheels.
Given the state of our public transportation system, that’s not at all surprising too.
Kuala Lumpur especially is fast becoming, or already is, a mass urban sprawl, and it’s not unusual to hear of commutes of 1,2 hours just to get to work.
Cars (and bikes) are an essential part of decent living in this country, though it may not be the green thing to say.
Without automobiles how else is someone who lives in Puchong Perdana going to get to her office in Ampang in a decent amount of time? And what if your job requires you to be mobile?
Living on public transportation alone is not impossible but it would be an experience not much different than eating only vegan gluten-free food in Malaysia.
So when someone suggests that prices for cars could be slashed down, the fact that many would raise their hands in celebration is a surprise only to the out of touch.
That cheaper car prices would make life better for a group of people who are already living on the brink of poverty is easy to understand.
That cheaper car prices frees up more of our income for spending on other things should be as easily comprehended as well, but for some reason it is not.
Sure, more shopping; dresses, cameras, computers, people will buy more of these with more money, but they’ll also be able to afford better education, better homes, and better healthcare.
More money in their pockets affords them better prospects, and gives them more to look forward to when they get home from that horrible commute.