DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls on the Government to review the decision to increase the price of petrol and diesel by 78 sen and RM1 per litre respectively.
The Government should (1) improve greatly all forms of public transport.
(2) let all oil companies provide service for natural gas so that there is no long queue at the pumps.
(3) ensure that all 144 local governments including Kuala Lumpur City Hall (KLCH) and Subang Jaya Municipal Council do not impose extra taxes including assessment and parking fees for vehicles during this difficult period.
Dr Tan spoke at the DAP ceramah in Sri Kembangan on 12.6.2008.
The world crude oil price increases more than five folds in the last year, reaching US$139 per barrel. It may reach US$ 200 or more. There are many factors leading to the hike, including speculations and increasing consumption by countries such as China and India. We need to know the root causes of this global inflation. Malaysia is not spared.
Malaysia produces oil of high quality with low sulphur content. She sells her oil and buys cheaper oil for internal needs. She is said to make at least RM 88 billion profit a year. With the current oil price increase, the profit will be much more. This is put in the consolidated fund, that is being used for various public expenses including subsidies, worth over RM 50 billion a year. What is the amount of subsidies now?
The government related company (GLC), Petronas, maintains that it does not have to present its account in Parliament as it is regarded as a private firm. We insist on its transparency and accountability. It continues to explore new fields. We do not know how long its reserve would last.
Since 4.6.2008, the Government has increased petrol and diesel price by 78 sen and RM 1 per litre respectively. It is reported that Petronas President and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hasan Marican said on 9.6.2008 that removing energy subsidies was a matter of survival for future generations, and not simply about cost savings.
The hike of 41% for petrol (RM2.70 per litre) and 63% for diesel (2.58 per litre) causes much consternation among the public. People are used to adjusting their budget according to lower oil prices. It is easy to introduce subsidy, but difficult to remove it.
The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stresses that there will not be further increase in oil price this year. We hope so. There are measures to reduce public spendings, including a cut in ministers' salaries and the payment of salaries for the civil servants in two instalments a month. The Government gives rebate amounting for owners of cars not exceeding 2,000 ccs and motrocycles less than 250 ccs. It is estimated to be RM 5 billion. Obviously, we must monitor these measures to see their real effects. We have seen wastage of public funds and allegations of corruptions.
The PM must review the measures taken. Meanwhile, people look for alternatives. For example, more people take public transport like the commuters. They face long queues and late arrivals of commuters. We need more frequent and better trains with better services. Similarly, the Government must improve the services of other modes of public transport such as buses like Rapid KL that should really be rapid; Monorail and Light Rail Transit must be more efficient.
Taxis and some private cars queue for natural gas to save fuel cost; the savings may be 50 or 70%. As there are limited Petronas stations giving natural gas service, there are delays. Stop the monopoly. Let more companies provide this type of service.
The country has 144 local governments. The KLCH has drawn up many parking lots especially by road sides. On 11.6.2008, the Datuk Bandar announced an increase in parking fees and imposition of such fees on areas that have been spared; there are non-official operators in certain places. All fees were to be collected 365 days a year, from 7.30 am to 10 pm. Today, the Datuk Bandar puts a stop to this proposed measure.
Local governments must be sympathetic to the people. When they face challenges such as inflation and economic downturn, local authorities should not give them extra burden; they should not add insult to injury.
Dr Tan Seng Giaw