Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Consumerism in Malaysia

I was pushed to write about this topic after reading about the "Protect our Pockets" campaign. Sometimes I do wonder, how did we get into such a mess. On weekends, you would see shopping malls packed with people. Everyone is there to buy, buy, buy.

Where I come from, most of my weekends are spent lounging around at home or with friends. Sharing a pot of freshly brewed coffee at home only costs less than RM1. That's almost free compared to the prices people pay at Starbucks. Whenever I walk past high end branded shops, I wonder how many of the people who shop there can really afford to buy those items.

I've been reading The Millionaire Next Door. It's quite and old book but the concepts are still applicable. If we were to live like real millionaires, we would be spending a lot less. It's about time we changed our mindsets. Being rich doesn't mean owning all the fine things that money can buy. If we lived below our means and be happy with what we have, then the world will not be in so much debt.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

World Carfree Day - 22nd September

It's time to leave your cars at home! Over in Malaysia, rail companies are giving out free coupons. A total of 150,000 free one-way coupons on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Monorail will be given out on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from Sept 22 in support of World Car Free Day. As typical Malaysian mentality goes, I doubt this will encourage new users. It is not big enough a carrot to lure car addicted citizens to take public transport, though it would be a nice little reward for existing users. 

What we need is a more efficient public transport system. Here is a typical itinerary of a highly efficient transit system (i.e. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, London): 

Walk to station: 5 min
Wait for train: 0-15 min
Ride to center: 10 min
Change platforms: 1 min
Wait for train: 0-15 min
Ride to end: 10 min
Walk to destination: 5 min
Total: 31-61 min
Average: 46 min

In contrast to our Malaysian transit:

Walk to station: 10-15 min (If you stay near one, otherwise you'll need to beg someone to send you to the station or park your car there)
Wait for train: 0-30 min
Ride to center: 30-60 min (the slowest being KTM Komuter)
Change platforms: 1-15 min (takes longer to walk from KL Sentral to the Monorail station)
Wait for train: 0-30 min
Ride to end: 10 min
Walk to destination: 5-10 min
Total: 56-140 min
Average: 96 min

These are just my rough estimate, but I'm sure most would agree with it. So, if we want more people to use public transit, we would need to make the journey faster.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pre-raya shopping rush

Tesco ran out of shopping carts so my fellow shoppers had to wait at the lifts and grab a cart once the lift doors open!