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BN flogging the poor

 | September 6, 2013

The poor rural folks are feeling the pinch since fuel prices are up; but the rich spared.

KUCHING: Sarawak’s PKR leader has accused the Barisan Nasional government of punishing the ordinary and rural people when it increased RON95 by RM 0.20; which is the most common petrol used by them.

On the contrary, the rich who use luxury cars have been spared when the price of RON97 was only raised by RM0.15.

“This is selective punishment for the ordinary and rural people, while the rich are being spared because they only buy RON97,” said Boniface Willy Tumek, a committee member of PKR’s Mas Gading division.

“The Prime Minister himself is being spared from such punishment as I believe he buys only RON97 for his luxury cars,” said Willy, who had served 21 years as a CIMB Bank manager.

“To me, the BN government is carrying out selective punishment against the poor and the rural people,” he added.

Willy said that by increasing the price of RON95 and diesel, the cost of transportation will go up and so will the price of goods.

“Prices of new homes will go up as cement, steel and other building materials will also increase and those in the food industries will also hike their prices of their goods.

“All these are bad news for all us,” he said.

Citing an example, Willy noticed that there is heavy traffic coming into Kuching daily from Bau as many could not afford housing in Kuching itself; thus they are forced to travel a distance for work.

“Now they will definitely be affected adversely with the new fuel price,” he said.

He added that many parents in Bau will also be hit by the increase as they have to ferry their children to and fro from school daily.

“Every day, these parents make four trips to the school, and they are the ones who will suffer,” he said.

Willy further expressed concern on the possibility of the government re-introducing RON92 into the market. RON92 was indeed withdrawn due to its high lead content which is detrimental to health and the environment.

“So instead of protecting our environment like the rest of the world, we are going backwards.

“If you ask me whether the Prime Minister has been doing good things, to me nothing that he has done is correct,” he said; pointing out that the government is now mulling to introduce the goods and services tax (GST) in the 2014 budget.

“And the government is hinting at 7% GST. GST has multi-tier effect on every level of production.

“This will also burden the people,” he said.

Najib dismissed his options

During the same press conference, state PKR information chief Vernon Aji Kedit said that the ordinary rakyat, especially in the rural areas, would suffer with the increase in fuel prices. The increase will have a ‘domino’ effect on prices of other goods like food and drinks.

Even though the rural dwellers might not own cars, they use petrol for their outboard engines and diesel for their generators.

“By the time the goods are transported to the towns, the prices of such goods would triple or even more. In a town like Belaga, a bottle of coca-cola is priced at RM5.00,” he said.

Kedit said that he disagreed with the comments made by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud who defended the Prime Minister’s move to increase fuel prices. Abdul Taib had mentioned that the PM had no choice but to cut subsidies.

“Actually Najib has a choice. Instead of cutting subsidy for the ordinary people, he should have cut subsidies for big companies and corporations.

“These industries are getting reduced rates in electricity, tax exemption, special subsidies and discounts. Go after them and cut their subsidies, why go after the ordinary people and punish them,” he said.

Najib has a choice, and the question is why he did not go after them, he said.

Kedit also challenged the state ministers, especially the three Iban ministers, to travel to the interiors by road and not helicopter as it is now more expensive in view of the fuel hike.

“They should lead by example to cut down government expenses,” he said.

“Are you still going to fly in luxury helicopters or help the government reduce public spending?” he asked.

Kedit specifically aimed his displeasure at the Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, Land Development Minister James Masing and Social Development Minister William Mawan. The three Iban leaders have kept their silence on the recent increase of fuel prices and the sufferings of the rural people.


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