A spate of PR leaders have criticized the oil subsidy cut. PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim described the 78-sen rise in petrol pump prices as “wanton in size and callous in effect”. He added the increase - the largest in four rounds of price hikes in the last 18 months - was the “compounded legacy of the now unsustainable secrecy in the way the profits of Petronas are disbursed and was also the cumulative effect of wanton waste in government expenditure”.
DAP Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister criticized the move as "economically insufficient and socially unjust". "It also does not deal with ensuring that fuel subsidies fulfill the intended objectives of the poor instead of benefitting the rich," he added.
Interestingly, Dr M has added to the chorus. He said a gradual subsidy reduction would have been a better option considering the burden of the increase that people have to cope with. I agree with Dr M's suggestion.
Considering our current socio-economic condition, a gradual cut of subsidy is a better option. The people and industries need to adjust to the new environment. I also agree with some economists who observed that it will be better off for Malaysia in the long run to adjust its subsidy structure now, before we reverse our position to become a net importer by 2014.
Dr M should be credited for the explosion of private car ownership when he introduced the local car making industry in the mid-80's. Private cars guzzle almost half of our petrol consumption and government's subsidy.
Earlier, Minister Shahrir Samad announced that the government will allow the fuel price to fluctuate according to the market sentiment. However, the government is committed to subsidize up to 30 cents per litre.
He also announced cash rebates for private cars and motorcycles. Shahrir's announcement marked the end of subsidy per use.
Instead of supporting and participating in protests, it is time for the PR coalition to propose an alternative strategy on how to control petrol price, reducing subsidy (especially on per consumption basis), prepare for the reverse of position to being a net importer, improve productivity, ensure finite resources are channeled to food security, public transportation and improving social well-being of all Malaysians.
I have said in my interviews with the press that although the subsidy must eventually be cut off the manner in which it was done is not correct and clumsy. The government, since the first subsidy cut in 2004, did not work on a gradual plan/milestones to help the people and industries to face the eventuality. But surely, we cannot continue to subsidize the rich and foreigners.
Can the PR do better?