A tank of petrol may rise to RM200 in rural Sarawak
10:24AM Oct 7, 2014
By Joseph Tawie
The federal government should immediately increase the oil and gas royalty from 5 percent to 20 percent to Sarawak in order to cushion off the effects of fuel hike, said Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chief Baru Bian.
“In Sarawak, the fuel hike is a big blow, especially to the rural areas.
“The domino effect of any petrol price increase is magnified and multiplied for us, especially those in the interior where transportation is a major problem,” he said.
“The government is so out of touch with the ground that it does not know or seem to care that the ordinary people are finding the business of living more and more difficult, and that the petrol price (hike) is a burden they could do without,” he said at a media conference yesterday.
“In Sarawak, this blow is even bitterer, considering Sarawak’s resources contribute 85 percent of the country’s oil which accounts for about 40 percent of the nation’s revenue,” he said, pointing out that in rural areas of Sarawak such as Long Lelang, the cost of one tank of petrol was RM150 five years ago.
“With the increase in fuel prices, a tank of petrol may cost more than RM200 now,” he said.
“Justifying the increase by saying our prices are the cheapest in the region and that it will affect the rich more because they drive petrol-guzzling cars is not going to comfort the people in the rural areas and in the various resettlement villages and even those in the cities.
“People do not have a choice - how else can they get from one place to another if not by cars?” he said.
“The solution as I see it is till to push for the 20 percent oil royalty which the Sarawak legislative assembly unanimously agreed should be done.
“The prime minister has not been forthcoming to our demands, merely suggesting in August that the government is willing to negotiate our royalties, clearly with the next state election in mind.
“A change of government is the only answer - we need to replace these leaders who are so hopelessly out of touch with the people’s difficulties,” he said.
Baru (right) gave an assurance that a Pakatan Rakyat government will increase Sarawak’s oil royalties as well as to establish two-tier oil companies owned by the government of Sabah and Sarawak to operate for the direct benefit of the people.
“By managing our oil resources, we can better provide for our people, who have been neglected by the federal government even when they have regarded us as their fixed deposits.
Improving public transportation
“One direct way to alleviate the burden of petrol hikes is by improving and expanding public transportation. In the towns and cities, this will provide alternative transportation for people to get to work and have the effect of easing traffic congestion.
“Cities such as Adelaide in Australia and London provide free public transport within the city - something we could do also if we have the funds from our oil resources,” he said.
Baru said: “A major contributing factor for the petrol hike is the government’s high foreign debt and the over 50 years in power has led to a government that is careless and reckless in its duties to the people, and corruption and leakages are the norm.
“One just has to read the Auditor-General’s Report each year to get an idea of the extent of this scourge.
“To add to our hall of dubious fame, last week Malaysia was ranked as one of the most corrupt nations in a survey conducted by Ernst and Young.
“A Pakatan government will ensure that the country is run with full accountability, competency and transparency. Sarawakians must vote for change,” he added.