Friday, June 13, 2008


Last Wednesday 11th June, I was traveling in a taxi to Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) for my usual medical check up, after alighting from the commuter train at Putra Train Station. This has been my traveling routine for several years. I find it convenient to travel by such means for two reasons.

Firstly, as a man pass his 60th birthday, I only pay half the normal fare for traveling in the commuter, and with reasonable comfort. However, that comfort will diminish, if I travel during peak hours, which I would normally avoid.

Secondly, I find it less stressful traveling by commuter and taxi, although the fare for the latter can be reasonably high, when caught in the usual Kuala Lumpur traffic congestion.

During the 15 minutes drive in the taxi, I was entertained to a lively conversation by an Indian taxi driver in his mid thirties, who happened to be born and raised in Kuala Lumpur. He therefore has no experience living in a rural environment, like those of some of his Indian brethren who work and live in the estates. He is a thorough bred urban dweller, and presumably with a much wider outlook and clearer perspective of the prevailing events happening in the country.

The moment I got seated, he began to ask me if the recent fuel hike has affected me. To this, I said “No, because I seldom drive to work, and it is my wife who uses the car most of the time to market and to perform her other chores”.

Next, he asked, “Macam mana pula dengan harga barangan makan yang banyak sudah naik sekarang?”. I answered that, “I actually do not know because my ‘home minister’ does all the buying. I only give her the money”.

On hearing my answers, the taxi driver turned around and gave me a deep stare and said, “Macam mana encik tak tahu ini semua. Saya sekarang mau makan nasi di kedai pun takut, kerana kalau saya makan di kedai, sudah tentu saya tidak dapat beli susu anak saya”.

I was taken aback by what came out of the taxi driver, and I could not believe that the economic situation in Kuala Lumpur has gone so bad for this poor taxi driver, that it has affected his livelihood, and that of his family.

“Encik”, he said, “Saya tahu mengapa itu menteri kasi naik itu minyak dan barang makanan – itu menteri semua tak perlu beli minyak kerana dia semua naik kereta kerajaan. Tak perlu bayar tol, cukai jalan dan parking. Saya kena bayar itu semua dan lagi kena bayar kepada tokey punya teksi tiap tiap hari. Menteri punya makan pun tidak susah. Mereka main order saja”

With a sense of remorse and sympathy, I replied “Awak kena banyak sabar kerana mungkin ini kerajaan sudah tidak ada wang lagi, dan kalau tidak ada wang, macam mana mau bayar gaji menteri dan orang kerajaan”.

To this he replied, “Kalau tak bayar gaji menteri satu tahun pun tak mengapa, kerana mereka sudah banyak kaya. Rumah pun besar besar dan anak bini pun boleh meniaga senang senang. Tengok itu menteri…………dia punya bini beli barang di luar negeri serupa macam Imelda Marcos lah”.

I could guess which minister’s wife he was referring to, and to this, I asked , “Macam mana awak tau itu cerita”.

With a smile, he replied “Saya pun tengok internet dan baca. Saya ingat itu internet tak bohong punya. Bukan macam itu Straits Times dan Berita Harian. Itu radio dan TV sama juga”.

Upon arriving at IJN, and having got out of the taxi, I handed the taxi driver a 50 ringgit note and said, “ Tolong beli susu anak awak dengan duit ini ya”.

I then asked him, “Siapa awak undi pada pilihan raya lalu”.

He hesitated for a moment, and said, “Mungkin encik tidak percaya. Saya undi BN juga, dan sekarang saya menyesal”.

The brief conversation that I had with the taxi driver, has made me to realize the economic difficulties that this poor taxi driver is confronted with, due to the recent price hike in fuel and food. I believe there are many more like him, and maybe there are even much more who are worse off than the taxi driver. And I don’t think this situation will get any better.

From this encounter, I could only hope that the BN government fully understand and feel the impact of the price hikes on the ordinary people; particularly that of the lower income group that forms the majority of the population of this country. And I honestly do not know if any minister has had the experience of traveling in the commuter; especially during the peak hours, or a taxi of late, to have the feel, hear and witness the people’s grievances at the recent price hike in fuel and food.

So please Mr. Ministers, have a heart for the people, and listen to them first before you decide to change anything that affects the economic livelihood of the people. For them, even a sen hike makes a lot of difference.

1 comment:

J. D. Lovrenciear said...


Not in our wildest dream will we find the powers-that-be take the train, bus or taxi to hear on a first-hand account the truth.

Why bother? The tidy pile of comforts and corrupting power is too good and has secured the base.

Only eternity will be the ultimate for these thieves.

May God bless you Sir for that human ability to feel the pain of the poor and hard-pressed.

J. D. Lovrenciear