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‘People First’ an insult in light of fuel price hike

 | October 4, 2014

The people feel burdened by the hike and worry that things will get worse after April 1.

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Najib 1 MalaysiaFor a long time now, we’ve been hearing from government officials, including PM Najib himself, that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) won’t burden the people. Obviously, they don’t know what the word “burden” means, if the recent decision to increase the petrol price is anything to go by.

Or maybe they don’t know what the word “people” means. So FMT decided to carry out a quick survey of the people’s feelings about the Oct 2 increase in the pump price of RON95 petrol. Nearly 50 were picked at random and were asked whether they felt burdened by the rise in the price of RON95 petrol.

All of the respondents said the slogan “People First” was pure bunkum – unless, some said, it was supposed to mean that the people are the first to suffer when there is economic hardship.

All of them said they felt burdened by the 20 sen increase in the fuel price, with several noting that the hike came on the same day that the world price of crude oil went down.

All said that they were worried that things would get worse after April 1 next year with the implementation of GST.

Several respondents said the Najib administration had obviously mismanaged the economy.

A motorcycle mechanic said he was not impressed by the announcement that the national economy was growing at a rate of more than 6%. “Are they saying that my misery is going down by 6% or more?” he asked. “Or are they saying that when the GST is imposed at 6%, things will level out? All I know is that I lose 10% of happiness every time they announce a price increase in something.”

Many respondents said they suspected that funds in the national coffers had gone down to a dangerous level. “Otherwise,” one respondent said, “why would the government be so desperate as to raise the price of fuel just before Budget 2015 is presented?”

A few businessmen said they understood that subsidies would have to be abolished eventually. But they added that this should be done gradually, starting two or three years after the GST is introduced.

One general message of the respondents is that they definitely feel the burden of the latest fuel hike. Another message is that the government must stop insulting the intelligence of the people with meaningless slogans.

Selena Tay is an FMT columnist


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