In this context, Yap Lay Sheng’s paper, published by Research For Social Advancement (REFSA), provides some new angles. Malaysia needs to improve our public transport services, especially since oil prices are high, while most ordinary citizens are struggling with the rising cost of living. But the provision of public transport would be too expensive for the government if done through what I call “big toy infrastructure” such as the MRT, which typically benefits companies like MMC-Gamuda in the form of big fat contracts. Buses are the easiest and cheapest option to start with.
On the other hand, Malaysia has a huge electrical and electronic industry which has a wealth of knowledge and know-how. We must find ways to tie the currently export-led E&E manufacturing sector, which is particularly concentrated in Penang and Kulim, to a deeper national industrial effort. Electric vehicles can be a worthy venture that solves two pertinent problems at the same time.
The following is a proposal for a “double jump” – improve our public transportation system through a new electric bus venture that would help Malaysia’s automobile, E&E and technology sectors leap forward. The world’s personal car market is very crowded and competitive, but the bus industry is not. Malaysia could capitalise on this niche and eventually become one of the world’s important producers of electric buses.