Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Another Activity To Waste Your Precious Sunday Away

It has been a while since my last article but I have got valid reasons for not posting anything.

1. Watching the complete Second Season of Battlestar Galactica on DVD. (all 20+ episodes in a week);

2. Watching Casino Royale. Pretty good I must say. However, not like what you’d expect but close to the Bond that Mr. Fleming pictured him to behave and act;

3. Preparing stuff for my company’s display at a certain Defence Exhibition in Indonesia as any merchant of these kind of stuff would do;

4. Discussed World politics and also the current Administration of Pak Lah with a Dutchman friend of mine; and

5. Went to a car auction.

This of course brings me to the topic of the APAC Sunday Auction for Automobiles which I attended last Sunday. Big business this auctions. You get individual sellers, companies, government bodies and banks auctioning off vehicles and you get individual buyers and also used car salesmen buying up cars for their own use or for resale. What impressed me the most is that here, you can have RM2,500.00 and be lucky to drive off in a 1988 Proton Saga (but sometimes you need a battery to get the car started or worse). How about a 1993 Isuzu Trooper 4 door (ex-Telekom Malaysia)? RM6,500.00. You get all the cred of a farmer or a contractor instead of an el-cheapo Proton Saga owner who collects scrap metal for a living cum small time crook. The engine of the trooper sounded pretty smooth as it drove by.

How about a 1996 Alfa Romeo 155 1.8 for RM18,000.00? I suppose you wouldn’t want Alfa related headaches but for RM18,000, why not? A Proton Gen2 1.6 registered in 2005 for RM33,000 would also be good. It costs RM50,000.00+ when new. A friend of mine said that he’d go to the auction and buy one when it drops to RM10,000.00 as it’s a fun car to drive and he’d love a fun car to drive it to the market and back.

If you want to start carting large stuff around or start your own pasar malam business, you have ex-Telekom Toyota Liteaces, Perodua Rusas and also the odd Proton Juara. RM6,500.00 gets you a nicely worn but mechanically sound Toyota Liteace and if you want a post 2000 van, the Juara is there although when it first came out and cost RM40K+, no one in his or her right mind would buy one because it looked downright silly and ugly. Didn’t stop my friend’s dad from buying one as it could be bought for a measly RM16,000.00 to be used as a carrier for their foodcourt stall business. Pretty good when something has a purpose instead of lugging around only people which some MPV owners fail to do.

There are cars that don’t get buyers. One such example is a Citroen C5. The reserve was set at RM40,000.00. But who would want to own pain and suffering? It’ll be like owning the Titanic knowing that it cost you a bomb and then 5 minutes later sinks in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Another example, not surprisingly are 3 units of Government utilised Proton Perdana from 1999. The opening price was RM30,000.00. No one wanted one. Not even the second hand dealers. I suppose the dreaded gearbox problems kept buyers away.

I was there at 10.50am on Sunday and stayed on till 1pm. The auction still had about 40 more cars to go and there was a nice Fiat Coupe waiting somewhere. But I don’t think it got a buyer. A nice place to waste your Sunday away unless you work somewhere around here that is.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Can't the person who blew up the Mongolian Model think of a better way to hide the evidence? And the Naza Suria.

The headlines of most newspapers these past few days are about some political/strategic/defense analyst together with 3 policemen being involved in the murder of an exotic looking Mongolian model, who purportedly had an affair with this analyst, the cause of death was a couple of bullets in the model's head and then, trying to cover up the crime by blowing her up with C4 explosives.

The moral of this story is not about someone who did a bad thing and got caught and deserves punishment. But, someone who did a bad thing, and didn’t know how to cover it up properly. It’s like watching an action movie, where the person who got killed, usually the baddie, gets stabbed, then shot, poisoned, then gets thrown out of a building. Why do you need to kill a person so many times for him to die? Or if you want to dispose of the evidence, other means are easier. Like stuffing the corpse in a barrel, filling it full of cement and dumping it in the middle of the straits of Malacca. Not nuking some bushes or trees together with a Monglian model near a densely populated area like Puncak Alam, Shah Alam.

Now the question is not whether the analyst really did such an act or did not do such an act in the first place, but why a learned man would stoop so low and end up in such turmoil. If this person, who graduated with distinction at some glorious English College, associated with tons of professional bodies, written tons of stuff, advised ministers, planned strategy and who knows what other crowning achievements, manage to be silly enough to be embroiled in tabloid fodder like this. I think that somehow, the leaders of the nation who’s being paying him visits and asking him for advice have been played like a fiddle by this guy. I mean, if he is part of this mess, or in the first place had a messy affair which led to the model being pregnant and so forth, his advice on world affairs, politics, defense and strategic planning would be actually rubbish. He however would be good at giving advice on how to have an affair with someone or tips on extra-marital sex or ways on how to bed an exotic Mongolian model. The reason being, if he were anything good on strategic planning, he wouldn’t be in remand in the first place. Or he was thinking with his loins instead of his brain.

I suppose all of us do that most of the time. You see an object of beauty and it’s not your brain that registers first. It could be your brain, but the loins actually sends impulses soaring and you (if you are a guy) may get a hard-on, if the object of beauty is a girl; or in the case of a guy in a Fiat Punto HGT in Desa Sri Hartamas last Saturday night, other guys.

If it’s a car, it would surely be some Pininfarina designed Ferrari or Maserati, a Mercedes CLS, a Jaguar E-type and so forth. But being civilised men, would you kill for a woman or would you kill a woman because you were stupid to get caught by the affair you started in the first place? Would you kill for a Ferrari Enzo? Of course that is even more unlikely.

Somehow events like this tell me that we actually have not so clever people telling other not so clever people how to run the country. It’s like the blind leading the blind. I suppose we Malaysians are a tolerant lot, we don’t like coups, we don’t like change to an extent and we just like to be left alone to enjoy our teh tarik. Unlike the Americans recently, they had their Congressional Elections and showed the current ruling party the actual sentiments of the people. We don’t like to rock the boat, and as such, the boat sinks slowly. Something like Proton; on a much larger scale.

Which brings us to my opinion on Naza’s overlapping 1.1liter cars. Recently Naza launched their rebadged version of the Kia Picanto. This car is one compact car which made waves when it was launched in UK. It did so many things so well that Autocar magazine rated it as good as the European Car of the Year, the Fiat Panda. I like this car in that the plastics used are of a quality rarely seen in small cheap Korean cars, or all Protons including their latest offerings. I know that the Picanto can corner well. Once I was on the interchange from Jalan Duta/Damansara towards Jalan Lake Gardens, a Picanto went past me doing around 80-90km/h on the bends. It looked utterly composed from behind. However, being a fully imported Kia, it costs quite a lot for a 1.1 liter car. I suppose this is why Naza, who is the importers of Kia and the assemblers of rebadged Kia MPVs decided to sell the Picanto as a Naza Suria (approx. RM44,000).

However, doesn’t Naza already have the Naza Sutera (the pic to the left) as their 1.1liter car? Talk about trying to get a bigger slice of your own cake. I know that the Sutera is based on a Chinese car (the Hafei Lobo), with lower build quality and a much cheaper price (approx. RM36,000). But somehow, this would still eat into its own market share instead of the market share of others. Somehow the corporate wheels at Naza want to just grab the market share, have a monopoly and the consumers get confused with choice. I suppose the Malaysian ‘local manufacturer’ scene is as confusing as clever people in Malaysia who do not so clever stuff.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Top 5 Brand New Cars You Should Not Buy With Your Own Money

Last night while eating a home made club sandwich(which tasted really good), a thought came to me. What we wear or own is an extension of a person’s personality. It shows the first impression of a person, kind of like a watch. If you see a person who doesn’t wear a watch, you can somewhat tell that he does not treat time as something important. From an un-audited point of view, which even though isn’t audited by some accounting firm with a name that sounds somewhat like Fisher Price Water Fowl, I’ve noticed that most people who don’t wear watches don’t keep appointments very well. They make 'Janji Melayu' or Malay Timing appointments look very punctual and think that their handphone can double as their watch. However, the thing is, they still ask people around them the time. Less than 200grams on the wrist will not kill you.

A cheap watch however shows you at least want to know what time it is, but it also shows that you are a cheapskate. A Seiko or a Tissot would mean you have a chance at being a person with some watch sense and anything more expensive than that means you’ve basically the means to afford a lot of good things in life. However if you buy a current model Tag Heuer, you’re ensuring that they have enough money to pay for Tag’s marketing campaign. As a quartz Tag Heuer 200m diver’s watch can cost as much as a automatic Tissot 300m Diver’s watch for the same price. Somehow you could say the same about cars, some may be cheap because they are cheap, but some are expensive because you are paying for the badge in the first place. BMWs are in the latter category and the Ultimate Driving Machine is seldom bought by someone who actually drives for the fun of it here in Malaysia.

BMW 3series’ are the Ultimate Yuppie Machine. The Ultimate Poser’s Machine. The Ultimate Chick Magnet Machine. BMWs are all these and more. BMW 3series’ are mostly driven by men who work for a multi-national company, have the latest PDA phones, have their Ralph Lauren Polo t-shirts (preferably with the latest big horse logo on it) with their collars lifted up, hang out with their latest laptops at some Coffee Bistro as they prefer to WI-FI rather than talk to each other at a coffee shop and think that they know everything. However, I actually know everything and I tell you that they don’t drive their BMWs the way it should be driven. As such, if you are a car enthusiast, don’t be seen in a BMW 3 series in Malaysia. People will think you’re one of those people who are the stereotypical poser and show off. It’s like the auntie you see at a kenduri with all the jewellery, pointing left and right trying to show off the 200 gold bangles on both wrists and arms. It’s like the friend of yours who ‘inadvertently’ flicks like wrist trying to show of like new Five Thousand Ringgit Omega watch when you already have 5 or 6 nicer watches lying around in your house and couldn’t be bothered about them one bit. All of this brings me to my current list of things.

The Top 5 Brand New Cars You Should Not Buy With Your Own Money

5. Proton Satria Neo

If you’re shorter than 5feet 6inches, then this should not be on this list. But since I’m taller than that, this car makes it on this list. This is one car that the enterior space and packaging utterly disappoints anyone who needs a proper hatchback. No head room, no rear leg room, no boot compared to the earlier model. Where’s the improvement? Going backwards is left to time travellers on TV.

4. BMW 318i

Do I need to say more? It’s basically saddled with an image issue and coupled to a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder, what’s so ultimate about that?

3. Kia Spectra

Are you so much against the Malaysian car that you have to buy one of these? They are Korean, with as good/bad a build quality as a Proton. Their spare parts are not cheap and cost as much as a Japanese car, their handling is actually worse than a Proton Waja. If you want cheap, buy a Proton, it’s a waste just to spend an extra RM10,000.00 on a badge which is actually in the eyes of a motoring enthusiast as bad owning a Proton.

2. Perodua Kancil

Why? It is the cheapest brand new car you can buy on the market. But that’s the whole reason. The driving position is for small people again, too hard seats, no under thigh support, bumpy, noisy, scary to drive fast, unsafe in a crash with anything bigger than a mountain bike. Save up and buy the next car up the line, the Kelisa.

1. Honda City Tadpole

Look at it (see pic). That’s not a car. It’s a tadpole on stilts. Why can’t you have more taste and buy a Toyota Vios. What’s wrong with the people that bought it. It’s ugly. It’s like in the first place you wouldn’t want to date the girl with pimples, a gap in her teeth, thin as a pole or fat as a South African Water Buffalo and then end up marrying her.

Special mention.

The BMW 1 series. Somehow this is the ultimate badge machine. You buy this car purely for the badge as it looks so much like a fat man has sat on it and then got up and left it like that. Look at the crease line connecting the front and rear wheelarches at the base of the doors to see what I mean. Buy a Mini Cooper S for the same amount of money even though it’s a Front Wheel Driver.

There you have it. Note that I’ve left out MPVs and SUVs because they are not cars. They are MPVs and SUVs, simple as that.

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