Once again, we’re not affected. Toyotas that won’t stop when you brake, and accelerate when you want to stop. Over 130,000 Toyota cars are being recalled, but we here in Malaysia — not affected. Honda brakes are failing. Over 400,000 cars are being recalled. We here — not affected. I’m not just talking about cars. China was (maybe still is, you’d never know until somebody dies) shipping melamine as milk powder. Hundreds of products were recalled worldwide. Here in Malaysia, we’re not affected.
We’re living in Malaysia the Wonderland. We’re blessed and shielded. Earthquakes and volcano eruptions happen outside of us. So we can stuff as much styrofoam as our budget permits into our walls. The saving we get, we donate it to government officers, who in turn donate a chicken feed portion of it to help poor victims of natural disasters in neighboring countries. There’s no storm here. So we could cut corners when building drainage systems. If you find yourself in a KL traffic jam, with the rain pouring and water at chest level, shit happens. We are blessed, no doubt about it.
I’m direct. So I tell you “we’re blessed”. Much like Samy Vellu would tell you “Act of God”. The top dogs in the car makers here won’t tell you that, which would look rather unprofessional in the press. They will tell you the rational explanations. They will say the batch of vehicles shipped here were produced in a different factory of a different country. They use different parts for SEA market. But they won’t tell you they are guarding their rear ends and bottom lines. They won’t tell you that if you die in a crash, oh well, the dead can’t sue.
But really, I’d like to believe they are telling the truth. I have no proof otherwise, anyway. It’s just my paranoid speculations. According to a study, 30 out of 100,000 Malaysians die in road accidents in a year, the highest among the surveyed countries. Of course, road ethic plays a part. Nevertheless I’m rather certain foreign cars are not the ones to be blamed. Proton never recalled their cars for their failing power windows. I vividly recall how I pulled off the door handle of a Perodua Kancil. Would the brake pedal breaks during emergency braking? Would the steering wheel come off? Heck, would the seat belt come off? That’s the only safety feature most people get. You don’t get stability control. Not even ABS in many low end models. It’s “optional” — that means you can choose, live or crash.
And that’s after 20 years of car making. Comparing to the progress that Japanese auto makers have made in the past 20 years, we ought to strap some local money-guzzling CEOs, Chief Designers and Engineers onto the cars they produced, preferably Proton Juara because that’s the ugliest, and send them on kamikaze collision course with each other. Just to see whether the airbags would deploy — in time.
I’m sure you’ve heard your share of horror stories about local cars. How the airbag deploys when cruising, unprovoked. How the airbag deploys only AFTER the driver has walked out of the crashed vehicle. There’s no solid proof of such events actually happened. Just rumors. I don’t like rumors. I want facts. I’d rather have an honest CEO standing up telling me “Look, we screwed up. The car will kill you. Send it back and we’ll fix it for free.” But the closest act of courage I’ve seen so far is Dr. Chua Soi Lek standing up erect to say “Yup, that’s me.”
So I could just continue to believe we are living in a blessed wonderland. Nothing ever affects us. I wonder why.