Our 3rd national car needs gadgets to deal with crime, lane-cutters and floods

Illustration by Zulhaimi Baharuddin.

I am eagerly awaiting the third national car - because I want to relive Malaysia's Golden Era when power windows didn’t work. 

Forget those dowdy experts who insist we should focus on public transport rather than cars. That’s “fake news”. 

Being a truly developed country has never been about mobility for the most people in the most efficient (and eco-friendly) way, otherwise Penang would have had an LRT system 20 years ago. 

It’s about jamming our roads with even more cars, just like Los Angeles. This will prove to the world that cars = jams = flyovers to solve jams =  sudah maju (already developed). Understand? 

And don't listen to those who say we lack the “economies of scale” for car manufacturing. We must instead scale the heights Trump-style to “Make Malaysia Great Again”. 

So yes, we shall push ahead with this new expensive national car project by sheer force of will, my way or the highway.

But we already have two national cars you say? Well, the original one was sold off to folks from China, and now we're not quite sure how "halal" it is. 

Besides, if it could not succeed despite 35 years of “protection”, then forget about asking why. It’s only logical that more protection is needed!

So let me offer some helpful suggestions for the third national car, which is to be named Perotiga it seems. 

First off is strategy. Should we be chasing the cutting edge of technology? 

I personally doubt it. Since the Japanese will probably soon be making a car that can run for 100km on, say, half a pot of green tea mixed with wasabi, can we ever catch up? Can fermented belacan, cencaluk or tempoyak ever have such fuel efficiency?

Let’s face it, we’ll probably always be one step behind the Japanese, not just in tech but also in road manners. 

So why don’t we instead target the other end of the market, the rugged and rude Third World? Isn’t that where our roads and drivers really belong? 

A national car must reflect national culture. For example, the new Myvi from Perodua has an anti-theft handbag hook. Now, THAT is what I call a "real" Malaysian car. It recognises the realities of crime on our roads rather than pretending our cars are operating in safe and polite Japan or Germany.

The new Perotiga can do even better and stop smash-and-grab attacks from Mat Rempit robbers. Yes, if we can put metal grilles to protect our homes from thieves, I say it's time to do the same thing for our cars! 

You think it looks "ugly"? Let's forget about trying to "wannabe” the slickest, smoothest car ever made. 

Everyone in the world is chasing the same goal, and we should break away from the herd, do something different that suits our dangerous roads and drivers. Who knows, this may be a unique export niche to Third World countries. 

Here are some other design ideas. 

What I really want in the Perotiga is an anti-lane cutting device, maybe an extra loud horn (like that of an ambulance) that will, in effect, warn: “Don’t even think of cutting into my lane, buddy!” 

That loud horn needs to be backed up with a real deterrent, maybe some kind of car paintball gun that will smear the offender's car. Too aggressive you say? Well, it’s not a flamethrower.

Next up, let’s go beyond a mere rear parking sensor. We should also have a front radar that can warn drivers of potholes since our roads are so famously “well maintained”. 

Crucially, the Perotiga must also recognise that we, as Malaysians, have certain rights more important than the right to free speech. This is our sacred, fundamental and inalienable right to double park!

Of course, we've all seen irate guys banging on car bonnets of selfish double mother parkers. Let's solve this problem by installing a large red button (a punch-proof one) on the car that said irate folks can bang on to automatically ring our phones. 

All new Perotiga cars must also come with “snorkels” - like those on 4WDs that allow them to cross shallow rivers. This will help long-suffering Malaysians drive through our towns' frequent flash floods past the envious eyes of those caught in hours-long traffic jams! 

Finally, let me add a totally local design touch - The Hand. 

Malaysians are paradoxical. In person, we tend to be courteous and soft spoken. But put us into a metal can called a car, and we descend down the evolutionary tree to become the rudest road primates.

The machine somehow dehumanises us. But wind down your window and put out your hand (or even your head) in a friendly gesture, and we magically return to being those nice, fluffy Selamat datang ke Malaysia (Welcome to Malaysia)” kind of people. 

So I suggest the Perotiga should have a mechanical arm that, after we press a button, will rise up with a human-like “palm” facing forward.

This, of course, is the great Malaysian signal that says (all at once): “Sorry ah, let me go through first, please laa, thank you ah…” 

It also doubles up as the universal “smart card” that gets you past the guards at many condos. 

When the mechanical hand is lowered, it should reveal a cigarette holder. This is so that poor Ah Beng’s don’t have to hang their fag-laden hands outside car windows and drive dangerously with just one arm.

Sure, you can scoff that all these proposals for the new national car are just too outlandish. 

But they are no more ridiculous than saying that our country will soon repair all potholes, stop flash floods and curb smash-and-grab crimes. The most ludicrous thing is to imagine that we Malaysians can drive as politely as the Japanese.

So let’s stop trying to be a derivative of Mitsubishi or Daihatsu. Or Geely. Let’s instead come up with something that truly reflects the rough and tumble roads, drivers and social habits of our country.

This will reflect our mental liberation, our independence from slavishly following foreign designs. Which is why we should also drop the awful name Perotiga and name it MERDE-CAR.

In other words, let's finally have a true Malaysian car!   

>The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. Teh Tarik is a column that appears when something 'khau' is brewing in the writer's head.

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Andrew Sia

Andrew Sia

Teh Tarik is a delicious brew of ideas that can be served ‘khau kurang manis’ (strong and in your face) or sweet, milky and frothy.


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