Thursday, June 26, 2008


The recent fuel price hike in Malaysia had created a lot of chaos in the country. When you thought every problem has been resolved, more issues occurred. Now, they want to have separate pumps for foreign cars and with the latest strike by some petrol stations in the country to disallow the usage of credit cards. It is really a shame and big joke in the eyes of the world for a petrol exporting country to have so many issues with petrol. The government constantly reminds us that we have the cheapest fuel price in the region. However, you should compare apple with apple. You don't compare with Singapore which is not an oil exporting country. The nearest comparison you can do is perhaps Brunei and you know who has cheaper fuel price. Apart from that, you cannot do conversion of currency directly to compare as it is not making sense. You earn a certain currency and you spend a certain currency in the same country.

Anyway, with our extremely unreliable, badly maintained and inefficient public transport, we can't really compare to Singapore at all. For them, they can survive just by using the public transport. The poor in Singapore can survive without car or motorcycle but not in Malaysia. Our roads are already the worst I had ever driven in comparison with Brunei and Singapore.

The public transport in Malaysia which is available almost everywhere are buses and taxis. Taxis in Malaysia are meant to rob you in bright daylight as they will never follow the metres. In Johor Bahru, if you ask them to go far away like the airport, they ask you to pay for two ways because there is no guarantee they will get any passengers when they reach the destination. That's how it works in Johor Bahru. Their metres are for show only as they will never use it. Only once in a bluemoon when you are lucky, you will meet with one who actually follows the reading of the metre. You should go buy yourself lottery tickets as it is really a very rare chance!

Buses in Malaysia are so run down that they release so much dark smoke that a white car following behind will not require to pay for spray paint to change to black. The bell buttons are mostly not functioning. Sometimes when you are sit or stand inside, you can smell funny chemical spreading all over the place. The device for you to insert coin may be faulty. Sometimes the ticket issuing machine is not functioning. Sometimes even the doors can't shut properly. The bus is so dirty that you think it is cleaned only once a year. They are almost not on time. They can come as early as 1 minute to as late as an hour away depending on different places in Malaysia.

I was lucky I pumped the petrol one day before the announcement of fuel price hike. I was not among the crazy millions perhaps stuck in the queues all over the country to pump petrol. I also considered installing the liquid gas tank as the alternative fuel. It is used a lot in Johor Bahru by taxi drivers and they convinced you that it is a lot cheaper. Still, there are only 3 petrol stations in Johor Bahru which have services to fill the tank for you. The queues are always as long as the ones you see when the fuel price hike was announced. You also need to sacrifice some space behind to install it into your car. The good thing is you can switch between it and your conventional fuel anytime.

Nowadays, I always make sure I have the air-condition at the most highest temperature tolerable with the weakest fan speed all the time. I will not on it if it is possible but given the extreme polluted air in Johor Bahru, it is not always possible. Probably after a heavy rain perhaps.

I make sure I don't accelerate too much unless it is really necessary. I will also think twice before going to a destination especially if there are more than 1 route which do not require you to drive up the higher terrains. Johor Bahru does have some flyovers and hilly areas too. I don't mind to take a slightly longer route if the drive is mainly on flat terrains.

I went to apply the Shell Citibank credit card just for the small rebates I will get for pumping Shell petrol and buying anything else. Well, it may not be much but it is still better than nothing. When I heard about the petrol stations not accepting credit cards, I was abit irritated. It happened just after the credit card was approved. Sigh! Hope it will be fully resolved.

So, anybody else has better ideas of how to save on our transport except by suggesting that we should all use public transport in Malaysia?

Petrol stations in Penang rescind ban on credit cards

Malaysian taxis among worst in world
Thu, Jun 26, 2008
The New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Malaysian taxis are among the worst in the world, claims a survey by a local magazine.

Readers of The Expat magazine, which has a monthly circulation of 6,000 copies, gave the Malaysian taxi service a big thumbs down when compared with services in 22 other countries.

In fact, local taxis scored the lowest in almost every category polled. The survey's 200-odd respondents, comprising expatriates from 30 countries, even went so far as to brand local cabbies "a national disgrace", "a source of national shame" and "a serious threat to tourists - rude bullies and extortionists".

The most frequent complaint was of overcharging and taxi drivers refusing to take passengers who did not agree to pay a flat rate much higher than the regular fare.

The survey covered five main aspects, namely taxi quality, courtesy of drivers, availability on the street, availability by phone and driver job knowledge.

On a 10-point scale, local taxis got scores of 3.8, 4.4, 4.4, 4.8 and 5.5 for each respective aspect. This was in sharp contrast to the 8.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.8 and 8.7 earned by taxi drivers in Singapore.

Expat Group CEO Andy Davison, whose company owns The Expat, said the high response rate combined with the absence of any really positive feedback, makes it clear people are unhappy with the current services on offer.

"In the last 10 years, we have done about 40 surveys among the resident expatriate community on many aspects of life in Malaysia.

"Most have produced very positive results, but our first survey on the taxi service has revealed a very negative picture," he said yesterday.

On suggestions on how to improve the image of local taxi drivers, Davison said that fares should be high enough that drivers would not feel the need to overcharge in order to make a living.

He also said driver training was an area that could be improved on.

When asked to comment, Taxi Operators Association chairman Datuk Aslah Abdullah said he couldn't deny the findings of the survey.

"However, you also need to check what the fares are in the other countries being compared, because that's where the problem here lies."

On training, he said drivers had undergone tutorials conducted by City Hall and taxi associations since the beginning of this year.



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