Monday, October 13, 2014

BARU BIAN: PETROL HIKE – CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT IS THE ANSWER



5 October 2014

Much has been said by so many about the 20 sen increase in petrol prices and I will not repeat the statements except to say that 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 this petrol price is a burden they could do without.

In Sarawak, this blow is even more bitter, considering that Sabah and Sarawak’s resources contribute 85% of the country’s oil revenue which accounts for about 40% of the nation’s revenue. In oil-rich Brunei, petrol costs RM1.35 per litre. Can the government explain to the people why the riches of our land are taken by the federal government to fund the development of Peninsula Malaysia and to bail out ailing crony companies, while the people are not getting any benefit at all? Quite the reverse, in fact. 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. 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?

The solution as I see it, is still to push for the 20% 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 elections 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.

A PR government will increase our oil royalties to 20% as well as establish two-tier oil companies owned by the governments of Sabah and Sarawak to operate for the direct benefit of our 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. 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 provide free public transport within the city – something we could do also, if we had the funds from our oil resources.

A major contributing factor for this petrol hike is the government’s high foreign debt. The over 50 years in power has led to a government that is careless and reckless in its duties to the rakyat, 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 PR government will ensure that the country is run with full accountability, competency and transparency. Sarawakians must vote for change.

BARU BIAN
ADUN N70 BA’ KELALAN

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