Monday, June 09, 2008

Anwar Ibrahim Seeks Government Ouster Over Fuel Hike

Thousands of Malaysians on Sunday took part in the biggest opposition protest against a sharp rise in fuel prices that has stoked public anger in the oil exporting country.

The rally in a football ground in the capital by opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim was part of a series planned to pile pressure on beleaguered Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to either reconsider the oil and diesel price rise or resign.

"Reformasi, reformasi", the crowd in a poor, largely ethnic Malay part of Kuala Lumpur shouted, recalling Anwar's rallying call for reforms from a 1998 campaign after he was sacked as deputy prime minister.

"Politically, the message was clear on March 8, economically it's now a disaster. That is why we are calling on them to resign," Anwar said at the late night rally.

Abdullah, fighting for political survival after leading his coalition to its worst electoral performance in five decades of rule in March, has said the price rise was necessary in line with a global surge in oil prices.

Fuel subsidies have become financially crippling, the government said. Pump prices in Malaysia are still one of the cheapest in Asia.

But Anwar said the decision to raise petrol prices by 41 percent and 63 percent for diesel will hasten the government's fall as members of the ruling coalition begin to break ranks over the move that would drive inflation to a 10-year high.

Anwar has said he has enough lawmakers to topple the government following the March 8 election and was waiting for the right moment. Anwar said in the past three months alone his party had received 50,000 applications for membership and these included members of constituent parties of the ruling coalition.

"We have seen clearly more interest and support for Pakatan Rakyat (the opposition alliance). This applies even to members of parliament. Even some of them have been encouraged to approach me directly even though they are being closely monitored," he said.

But he did not give any details and analysts say Anwar, who was cast into the political wilderness after being dumped in 1998 by his former mentor, ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, has repeatedly made claims without showing any evidence.

PROTESTS

Protests in Malaysia, unlike in countries such as India and Indonesia which too have raised fuel prices, have been small and scattered, partly because of restrictions on public assembly.

But the opposition has planned a demonstration on July 12 when it says it will bring 100,000 people into the city centre to demand that fuel prices be restored to earlier levels.

The government has said it would save 13.7 billion ringgit ($4.23 billion) as part of a broad overhaul of its heavily subsidised energy price system. The money used for subsidies, which eats up a third of the budget, would be better spent on development projects, the government said.

Abdullah, also fighting to fend off a challenge to his leadership from within, will spell out measures this week to ease the burden on consumers, state media said. The proposals include ways for state bodies to save costs, widen the social safety net for the poor, increase the number of price-controlled items and improve public transport.

***** What strategy has the opposition to control fuel prices here amidst an unprecedented and devastating surge in the selling price of crude oil? These protests seem more like rank opportunism and cashing in on the misery of the average Joe. The dilemma that we face now is not of the government's making. It is merely responding to the economic situation and while we have no choice but to bite the bullet, the kerajaan is at least trying to soften the blow with relief in other sectors. If this can be done speedily and efficiently then the ill-feeling all round would be somewhat assuaged.

Assembling a hundred thousand people to protest the fuel hike is not the way to go. Carefully and precisely enunciating their plan to overcome the current economic crisis is what the opposition should be doing instead of stirring unnecessary trouble at a time of stringency.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? You actually expect politicians to act honourably?

12:33 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Edi神 said...

they are stupid but they think we are stupid too!

show them our power...

let's go go go!

2:46 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just figuring how?
my petrol bill is RM400 a month and yearly increase comes to RM1,920. govt is giving me back 625, which means there is another taxation of RM1,295 per year. What about the inflation in food and other goods?
so, how is the governemnt gonna help me while Petronas continues to register record profits. Throwing the additional funds into space program, RM3.0 million to each divisional delegate again, hundreds of millions into new camp sites for the NS program which produces more deaths than benefits, more funds into Port Klang white elephant whcih alread cost us RM4.7 billion, R3.5 billion for a double rail track for speed but empty containers..?
gee, I just reconcile. We just sit still and await for manna to come from this corrupt regime? They will tell you to close you eyes and have faith in them. Sure, by the time you open your eyes, al are gone into their pockets.

3:58 PM GMT+8  
Blogger kittykat46 said...

"The dilemma that we face now is not of the government's making."

Only half true. The rise in world oil market prices is not within the government's control.

That the government does not have the funding to mitigate the impact of fuel price rises on the lower income members of society is an indictment of Barisan Nasional's squandering of the country's financial resources, especially nearly 3 decades worth of petroleum export income.

That is what is making me very angry, not the fuel price rise, per se.

5:20 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we feel the pain caused by the effect of corruption and mismanagement.
Who started it all? A man named Mahathir Mohammed Iskandar Kutty.
So why not focus your anger on him then the PM and all the corrupted ministers including the CMs?
Why not aim your anger at them?
All talkings and demonstrations are usless.

6:35 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous SM said...

Yes, what makes me angry is not the Oil price hike! It's squandering of Petronas' profits for God only knows what! Petronas is still spending Millions to upkeep its Orchastera! My God is that reasonable?! We are expected to pay Market prices for Petrol but we are also expected to pay "hiked" up prices for cars because the Govt. still wants to protect Proton!!!!!
I say bring the 100,000 into KL. DSAI, what are you waiting for? It's time the PR takes over & shows us what it can do (we alreday have a taste of the PR in the Opposition states)!!!!!

6:54 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Edi神 said...

Rebate... sounds stupid!

Rebate only for those with vehicles...

so those really poor who cant afford vehicles and has to pay more bus fare.

NO REBATE LA!

9:32 PM GMT+8  
Blogger MANTRA said...

Face to face with the rakyat.. Hold live forums, debates with the rakyat.. explain and justify government's actions and decisions.. then the 12th July 100,000 demonstrations put to end..

Remember, its the rakyat who are facing the burden and the rakyat who put them in the government.. so why should the rakyat be quiet?

8:23 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Billy said...

Before we talk about the savings of RM13.7b, may we know what happened to the RM5b saved from the last fuel increase? We were told that it would go to the betterment of transportation and related infrastructure. But to-day, a year later, we have yet to see anything happening. So let's account for this RM5b first before we talk about the rest.

12:03 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Billy said...

To The-Malaysian: I beg to differ with you on the mass demonstrations by the rakyat. In fact, it was because of the BERSIH and HINDRAF gatherings that we finally managed to tell the BN that they can't take us for a ride anymore. Enough is enough!

12:06 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Gunnfan said...

Spot on Billy. Agree with both your posts!

My take is:
Step 1: Boot out current regime
Step 2: Start solving problems

The current regime is still raping the country and the only thing that scares them is when we the people take to the streets...

1:58 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BN out! Come on PR!

2:18 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why price htmlof oil so high? http://pedestrianinfidel.blogspot.com/2008/06/new-mo-cartoons-from-norway-terrorist.

2:21 PM GMT+8  

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