I am not exactly sure how I’d react or what I’d do if I was told I’d be given a brand new foreign-made (German technology and engineering) luxury vehicle worth half a million ringgit for me to travel about for official purposes.
Imagine being chauffeur-driven around in a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle without the need to pay car loan instalments, petrol charges, toll fares, road tax, car insurance premiums and maintenance costs. This might be an offer too good to pass.
I may claim I didn’t want it in the first place or I didn’t even know it was to be bought for me. Or I may plead ignorance and display some degree of humility.
But alas, since it has already been all paid for, perhaps why not accept it? I’d justify the need to keep the brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle. Safety would be my main justification, for of course I’d want to feel safe now that everyone knows I ride in a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle worth almost half a million ringgit.
If only I could keep this brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle away from prying eyes. I feel as if I now carry the burden of having to wear a diamond ring worth half a million ringgit in public!
My safety cannot be compromised. No other vehicle will do. Certainly not the old foreign-made luxury vehicle used by previous heads of state. For some reason, the safety features of the old foreign-made luxury vehicle no longer seem adequate for my protection.
A brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle certainly feels better than say, a seven-year-old foreign-made luxury vehicle. That vehicle would suddenly seem “too old” and “in need of repairs”.
God forbid if I crash into an extra-large pothole that would damage the tyres, absorbers, bearings, mountings and rims of my new car. The manufacturer’s warranty surely doesn’t cover such calamities. But hey, I wouldn’t have to fork out these expenses from my own pocket.
Then again, luxury vehicles are made to last. It makes perfect economic sense to spend half a million ringgit for a foreign-made luxury vehicle so that in the long run, I’d save some money in repair costs and use this luxury car for a long time – like say, seven years.
If only most Malaysians could similarly afford to change their luxury cars every seven years. Imagine the money they’d be saving (never mind the great depreciation in value)!
Speaking of value, the brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle comes with a huge discount of more than a hundred thousand ringgit. This amount saved is certainly better than several hundred thousand ringgit spent on the purchase of that brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle.
Imagine Malaysians from all walks of life having such bargaining power or being offered such great discounts! I certainly would also ask, “Any free gifts?”
Alas, I might be tempted to sell the car as the economy is currently bearish. But I’d only be able to do so if it didn’t belong to the state. Assuming that I could, then I would recoup that half a million ringgit – a figure never matched by my annual salary or even Employees Provident Fund savings!
I might just place that money in a fixed deposit and earn some passive income, use the money to pay off my home mortgage or maybe buy a home. Many houses in the outskirts today cost about half a million ringgit – the same price as a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle.
I might just be tempted to “top up” a bit more so I won’t have to buy a house located hours away from civilisation. Imagine being chauffeur-driven home through city traffic congestion, with an escort, in a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle. No need to cram into trains or buses, no risk of exposure to infectious diseases or even crime – if indeed, buses and trains are accessible.
Or perhaps I could swap that brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle for a bus. Are they the same price? Perhaps I’d present the bus to the public as a gift. The maintenance shouldn’t be as high as that of a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle.
Or perhaps half a million ringgit could be used to buy laptops for underprivileged children, food for the needy or shelter for the homeless.
Then again, the experience of being driven around in a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle might take my mind away from all the problems currently plaguing society. The dark tinted windows and next-level sound proofing would surely shut me off from the real world.
Riding in my brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle would make issues such as rising unemployment rates, jobless graduates, poverty, the economic downturn, worsening floods, the spike in Covid cases and water cuts seem miles away.
But hitting a meteor-size pothole during my ride might send me crashing back to earth. I might want to take this opportunity to be seen as an individual who is “berjiwa rakyat” (people-oriented) – to show that there is no difference in class between me and the marhaen (the working class).
Maybe I’d return this vehicle knowing it was bought using taxpayers’ money. Ironically, those taxpayers might never own such luxury and would remain stuck servicing long-term car loans and paying exorbitant car-related expenses while hoping for another loan moratorium that might never come.
Perhaps as a public servant, I’d remember I chose to enter the service so I could be of service to the people, society and nation – rather than having the people and the nation serve me.
I remember reading about past leaders who struggled with the rakyat. The media constantly remind us of the founding leaders of our nation who proudly served with integrity, honesty and humility.
Did these leaders require brand new foreign-made luxury vehicles for their safety, seeing that they lived during the perilous times of the Emergency, and the Konfrontasi, when their lives were under threat almost everyday?
Yes, there are still leaders from that era, but I wonder if today’s leaders remain in touch with the people’s struggles, as many of them live elite lifestyles. Would they similarly brave traffic jams on buses or trains without VIP treatment?
Maybe leaders who dare risk their safety by taking the bus or train for their daily commute, without requiring the protection of a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle only exist in other countries.
Oh, the dilemma!
But enough of what I’d do if I’m unexpectedly given a brand new foreign-made luxury vehicle. If only that would happen!
Perhaps I should think about buying a bicycle that costs almost twice a fresh graduate’s annual salary.