Wednesday, November 4, 2009

End-Of-Life Vehicle Policy: Putting People Last?

When the government said that it wants to put the people or rakyat first, many wondered whether the term `rakyat’ refers to the general public including the low income groups or whether it refers only to those in the upper income bracket. The recently announced End of Life Vehicle policy (ELV), if ever it gets implemented, will provide the answer to the question.
When the government for the first time spelled out the ELV policy, it was together with the announcement on the National Automotive Policy (NAP) the main objective of which, as we all know, is to sustain the growth of the nation’s auto industry. This is sufficiently indicative of the main motive for the ELV policy. The excited and happy response of the country’s main auto manufacturers more or less confirms this. They are all hoping that this policy will help increase their sales and profitability as owners of aging cars are persuaded to switch to brand new cars. On the other hand, owners of 10 to 15 year old cars many of whom are from the lower income groups are generally alarmed at the grim prospect of increased financial burden.
Some supporters of the ELV policy argue that it is high time that Malaysia follows other developed countries to implement the policy. This is a classic example of jumping-onto-the band-wagon fallacy because it ignores many significant differences between Malaysia and other developed countries such as Britain and Japan. One of the most important differences is in terms of income levels. Another is the price of cars. The 2008 GDP per capita (from World bank statistics) for Malaysia is USD7,221 while for the UK it is USD43,089. The price of an `average car’ in Malaysia, say a Proton Waja, is about USD19,000. If we compute Malaysian car price to GDP per capita ratio, it is about 2.63. In the UK, the price of a Proton Waja is USD19,200. The UK’s car price to GDP ratio is therefore 0.44. Therefore, relative to income levels, the price of cars in UK is about one-sixth the price of cars in Malaysia. In other words, the same Waja should only cost around RM11,000 instead of RM66,000 if we take our income levels into account. The fact is the price of cars in Malaysia is horrendously high due to protectionist policies. If the argument to justify ELV is that we should follow developed countries like the UK, new car prices in Malaysia should also first emulate car prices in the UK. Then only would the argument make any sense. Otherwise, the policy will impose a terrible burden on the average family. There will be many implications, from reduced savings for their children’s education to less money to pay for medical bills.
The government may argue that the reason is to improve the environment because new cars are more fuel efficient. This is actually a nonsensical argument. A recent study found that the positive impact on the environment by the US government’s `Cash for Clunkers’ program, which is a variant of the ELV policy, is very insignificant. Moreover Time magazine in its commentary on the US Government’s `Cash for Clunkers’ program highlighted the “undeniable fact that destroying an existing car — even a clunker — and manufacturing a new one requires energy and carbon emissions that would be saved if you just held onto your old car”. The reason is very simple. Assume that as a result of the ELV policy, there will be an additional sale of 200,000 cars on Malaysia road a year. If the average price of the cars is RM65k, then we are talking about a total increase of RM 13 billion which was completely unnecessary since without the ELV program there will be no such sales. The owners of the 200,000 new cars are now forced to work to pay for the purchases. Assuming that they are in the manufacturing sector, now the factories will be working longer etc. If they had not been forced to buy a new car, they would have had no new debt to worry about. Now instead of relaxing at home with their families, the car buyers are busy working in their factories and burning fossil fuel in the process. Actually, if the government is really serious about the environment, the focus should on reducing the number of big fuel-guzzling cars or SUVs or improving public transportation system so as to reduce the number of cars on the road rather than encouraging new car sales and new debts.
Another argument made for the ELV is to reduce accident rate. This is truly farcical because so far the government has not produced any statistics indicating that road accidents in Malaysia are caused by 15-year old cars. Actually we all know that most accidents actually involved motorcyclists. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence (such as the type of cars involved in accidents parked at a police station in my neighbourhood) seems to indicate that they are caused by young reckless drivers driving powerful new cars. Most owners of 15-year old cars are conservative or elderly drivers who simply do not speed recklessly on the road.
It is therefore obvious what the ELV policy is all about. It has nothing to do with the environment or the need to reduce accidents on the road. It is all about wanting to force people to buy new cars and abandon their old cars regardless of the roadworthiness of their existing cars or their income levels or financial situations. Presently many Malaysians have problems managing their debts. Hence the never ending reports of Ah Longs and their exploits. If the policy becomes practice, apart from the car manufacturers, the Ah Longs too will be very delighted.
As stated earlier, the ELV policy is going to be a real indicator as to whether the government puts the welfare of the people first or whether it is more concerned with the health of the country’s car industry. Fortunately I think our PM is not a politically foolish person. He knows that if the government is perceived to be unjust to the people vis-à-vis this ELV issue, then all his efforts to improve the perception of the people towards the government will suffer a serious setback. Nothing drives the people more towards the opposition than a policy that directly hurts the people’s pocket. ELV is one such policy.

Ibadah Qurban: Ibadah yang tidak diambil berat orang Islam di Malaysia

Assalamualaikum kpd semua,
Hari Raya Aidil Adha semakin hampir. Salah satu dari ibadah besar yang dilakukan pada hari raya nanti ialah ibadah Qurban. Malangnya bila kita perhatikan, ibadah ini semakin tidak diambil berat oleh umat Islam di Malaysia walau pun ialah dikategorikan sebagai `sunnat muakkad' atau pun sunat yang diberatkan. Di surau atau mesjid kita akan perhatikan ada beberapa ekor lembu sahaja akan dikurbankan padahal ada beratus atau beribu keluarga Islam di sekeliling surau atau mesjid tersebut. Kenapakah ini berlaku? Adakah kerana keluarga2 Islam itu tidak mampu melakukan ibadat kurban? Sebenarnya kos ibadat kurban sangat sedikit iaitu hanya sekitar RM360 untuk satu bahagian iatu minima untuk satu keluarga kalau hendak menyertai ibadat kurban. RM360 boleh dikumpulkan dengan hanya melakukan simpanan RM1 setiap hari sahaja untuk selama setahun. Rata2 orang Islam sanggup melanggan broadband internet sebanyak hampir RM100 sebulan yang bermakna lebih dari RM1,200 setahun. Tetapi kenapa tak sanggup belanja 25% peratus dari kos tersebut untuk tujuan ibadat sunnat yang dituntut oleh Allah? Mungkin kerana kurang mengetahui pensyariatan dan fadhilat kurban itu sendiri? Kalau itulah sebabnya maka saya append di bawah beberapa ayat Quraan dan Hadis berkenaan ibadah Qurban semoga akan memotivasikan semua untuk menyertai ibadat untuk tahun ini. Pastikan tuan/puan baca hadis yang terakhir.

Pensyariatan Qurban

1. Firman Allah S.W.T dalam surah Al-Kautsar ayat 2 :

Maksudnya : "Maka kerjkanlah sembahyang kerana Tuhanmu semata-mata dan sembelihlah korban sebagai bersyukur".
2. Allah S.W.T.telah berfirman dalam Surah Al-Haj ayat 37 :

Maksudnya: "Daging dan darah binatang korban atau hadiah tidak sekali-kali akan sampai kepada Allah, tetapi yan sampai kepadaNya ialah amal yang ikhlas berdasarkan taqwa dari kamu".
3. Sabda Rasulullah S.A.W.:

Maksudnya : "Aku diperintahkan dengan menyembelih korban itu dan ia adalah sunat ke atas kamu". (Hadis riwayat Tirmidzi)


Fadhilat yang diperolehi daripada ibadah korban ini amat besar antaranya:
1. Menambah amal kebajikan. Sabda Rasullah Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam:

Maksudnya: "Korban itu bagi tuannya dengan setiap bulunya adalah kebajikan".

(Hadis riwayat Tirmidzi, Ibnu Majah dan al-Hakim)
2. Sebagai penebus dosa Sabda Rasullah Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam kepada Sayyidatina Fatimah:

Maksudnya: "Hai Fatimah,berdirilah di sisi korbanmu dan saksikanlah ia, sesungguhnya titisan darahnya yang pertama itu pengampunan bagimu atas dosa-dosamu yang telah lalu".

(Hadis riwayat al-Bazzar dan Ibnu Hibban)
3. Mendapat tempat yang mulia di sisi Allah.

Sabda Rasullah Sallahahu 'Alaihi Wasallam:

Maksudnya: "Wahai manusia, sembelihlah korban dengan mengharapkan pahala daripada Allah dengan darahnya, bahawa sesungguhnya darah korban itu jika ia tumpah ke bumi maka ia akan mengambil tempat yang mulia di sisi Allah Azza Wajalla."

(Hadis riwayat Thabrani)
4. Rasullah Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam pernah bersabda:

Maksudnya : "Tiada dibuat oleh anak Adam pada Hari Raya Adha akan sesuatu amal yang lebih disukai oleh Allah Ta'ala daripada menumpahkan darah (menyembelih korban). Bahawa korban itu datang pada hari kiamat dengan tunduk-tunduknya, bulu-bulunya dan kuku-kukunya. Sesungguhnya darah korban itu mengambil tempat yang mulia di sisi Allah sebelum darah itu tumpah ke bumi, maka hendaklah kamu buat korban itu dengan hati yang bersih."

(Hadith riwayat Tirmidzi)
5. Ancaman terhadap orang yang mampu melakukan qurban tetapi tidak melaksanakannya. Daripada Abu Hurairah Radhiallahu 'anhu katanya, sabda Nabi Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam:

Maksudnya: "Barangsiapa yang ada kemampuan untuk berqurban tetapi tidak melakukannya, janganlah dia hadir bersama kami di tempat sembahyang kami".