SAPP chief: Unjust to withhold fuel subsidy from Sabah, Sarawak

The price of RON95 petrol will be allowed to float from Jan 1 in the Peninsula but will be maintained at the subsidised rate of RM2.08 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

KOTA KINABALU: The federal government’s decision not to extend the targeted fuel subsidy scheme to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan was described today as “an unjust discrimination” by SAPP president Yong Teck Lee.

However, consumer activist Ben Johl said that maintaining the subsidised RON95 price would ensure that consumer prices do not go up.

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii said he was happy that the price cap was maintained, but urged that a proper check mechanism be put in place to make sure that the system was not abused and to profit the rich instead.

Yong accused the federal government of not having thought the matter through. He said: “This is a totally unjust discrimination against the B40 community in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.”

He said price cap was there for another reason – bad roads, poor infrastructure and long road distances in between districts compared to Malaya.

“In any case, the discrimination means that the B40 community in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan will pay for the same fuel prices as other more well-off road users,” he said when contacted by FMT.

Yong urged the federal government to reconsider the decision.

Earlier today, consumer affairs minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail announced that the price of RON95 would be maintained at the current level of RM2.08 a litre for people in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

In the Peninsula, a targeted subsidy scheme will come into effect for those who are registered recipients of Bantuan Sara Hidup aid. They will receive a direct payment every four months of RM48 for owners of motorcycles with below-150cc engines and RM120 for owners of cars with engines below 1,500cc.

Ben Johl said: “Consumer prices are already high in Sabah and Sarawak. If fuel prices are floated and prices go up, it may have an impact on cost of living… it is a gamble.

“If I were a Sabahan or Sarawakian, I would rather have the price locked at RM2.08. Crude prices are volatile and very much tied to geopolitical developments,” he said.

Yii said that before the price decision was taken, the DAP had urged that special consideration be given to Sabah and Sarawak based on the region’s needs and demographic patterns.

He said the federal government would spend about RM150 million a week in fuel subsidies between Aug 23 and Sept 13, and an average of RM170 million a week after that.