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Instead of driving, I took a taxi this afternoon for a long journey.As I entered the taxi,a relatively brand new Proton Waja, I could smell petrol. I found it concerning so I enquired the driver on the source of the smell. The man dressed in a smart uniform, whom I found a little later rather talkative; told me not to worry as the problem was due to a little spillage while accidentally filling in more petrol in his tank when he thought he had little petrol as his taxi stalled in the middle of the road the day before.

He discovers that the fuel pump is not functioning properly and has failed to fire the engine at the same time giving the impression that the tank is empty. This fuel pump failure seems to be a common complaint among his fellow taxi drivers who drive Proton Wajas. Asked whether the drivers ever filed a complaint about this defect he said something which rather disturbed me. He said ” How can we complain? This is a national car and we Malaysians have to support our car industry”.

What kind of reasoning is this? Without feedbacks from consumers how can the car makers rectify the defect and make improvement? Do Malaysian consumers accept this kind of substandard product and suffer in silence because it is Malaysian made? And of course compared to the Japanese Hondas and Toyotas, Malaysian cars are much cheaper due to an element of protectionism. As locally made cars are cheaper, does it mean their defects/faults are better tolerated?

My subsequent internet search reveals that there are a number of similar complaints about Proton Waja’s fuel pump failure with vehicle stalling being posted online. Have people at Proton ever read them?

I don’t know whether Proton Waja is exported to an overseas market but my impression is the standard of exported cars is higher than those for local domestic consumers due to global competitiveness. I gather that a car for export is less likely to have that faulty fuel pump.

Coming back to our “confused” taxi driver, I am just wondering wouldn’t the defect prove dangerous to him and his passengers? What happens if the car suddenly stalls on a busy highway and some speeding car crashes on its rear? Wouldn’t it be a disaster? It seems this possible consequence doesn’t cross our friend’s mind. This is what we call a disaster is just waiting to happen.

This reasoning of blind loyalty to local products speak volumes of the local consumers’ apathy giving rise to the culture of exploitation for profits where substandard quality is churned out at will. It is sad when people refuse to complain for fear of being labelled as un-nationalistic. A non-complaining culture will not bring up the best in anything. Things will just not improve. In fact, in some instances, they can turn out to be quite risky.

Even the police uses Proton Waja, our national car.

I will definitely refrain from tailgating a Proton Waja just in case it suddenly decelerates and stops in my path. And I don’t know about you, the next time I order a taxi I will make sure it is not a Proton Waja!

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