Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Proton and the World's First Muslim Car

Written by johnleemk on 4:43:27 am Dec 2, 2007.

A few weeks ago, Proton, the heavily-protected Malaysian carmaker, announced it would be launching a "Muslim car". What constitutes a Muslim car would obviously be the next question on anyone's mind.

According to Proton, the car would contain special compartments for a Quran and prayer mat, and include a special compass which points to Mecca. There might be other special features, but if there are, I don't know of them.

I mean no offense to Muslims here, but what kind of retarded idea is this? I'm not Muslim, but I'm pretty sure not many of the Muslims I know decide to get out of their car and pray by the side of the road (otherwise neither the prayer mat or the compass would have much use). As far as I know, you have to undergo special ablutions before you pray, which basically means if you pray by the side of the road, you're not a good Muslim.

I can see a use for carrying the Quran in your car — maybe you would want to meditate over some verses from it while on a long road trip, or use it to resolve a theological debate you might somehow found yourself in while in the car.

But still, how does any of this justify adding a couple of special features to a car, and marketing it as a Muslim car? If I were a Muslim, why would I want to buy a car?

Honestly, Proton has to have a very low opinion of Muslims' intelligence if it believes it can compete by calling something "Muslim", and thus expecting people to buy it. If I wanted to store a Quran and prayer mat in my car, I already have suitable compartments for doing that. Adding a compass that points to Mecca wouldn't be too difficult either.

This would just be an interesting "Haha, stupid!" story if not for the fact that Malaysian tax money is going into this project. My ringgit is going to be subsidising this stupid idea of a car — its production, its marketing, and the salaries of the fools who came up with this idea.

That is the entire problem of protecting our automobile industry for too long — it has insulated our carmakers from the pressure of the market. Maybe the car will fail, maybe it will succeed simply because it happens to be cheap.

But whatever happens, Proton's leaders will not be punished for their poor management. They have no incentive to make a good car. It's time to end this stupid policy of protecting our automotive industry, and to start exposing it to the competitive pressure of the market. It won't just give us better cars — it'll waste less of our money as well.

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