Thursday, October 06, 2005

Neighbouring Countries Moves In Right Direction

In recent times, we have fallen further behind our neighbours in coming up with the right policies in helping our nation rectify the problems caused by the increasing oil prices worldwide. We would expect the Singaporean government to always come up with better policies than their Malaysian counterparts but this time, Indonesia came out tops by risking the wrath of its populace and did the unthinkable.

Indonesia, like Malaysia, is a nation that produces and exports oil but also imports oil for the nation's own use. It can be said that Indonesia is one of the most subsidised nation in regards to petrol and diesel prices. However, that changed with the recent move by the Indonesian government to almost triple kerosene prices and double those of diesel while petrol prices were increased by 88%. That daring move was threatened with street demonstrations but none materialised. For a country well-known for demonstrations at every displeasure of a government policy, it was really surprising the controversial move to reduce oil subsidies so drastically did not receive the same fate as other less provoking policies. A week after the increase, Indonesia's fuel demands plunged as much as 70%. It is very much possible that people might have stocked up before the price increase but the Indonesian government is still expecting as much as a 15% decline in fuel demand due to the price increases. In just one move, the Indonesian government was successful in narrowing their budget deficit by reducing oil subsidies and cut wasteful use of oil products due to the unreal cheap oil prices caused by government subsidies, all this without crippling their economy and their citizens rioting. In retrospect, the Malaysian government postponed any price increase in oil prices to 2006, thus continuing to pamper the rakyat with the disillusionment of using unreasonably cheap petrol and diesel prices. Now then, can you tell me which country is suffering from subsidising dysfunction?

Recently, Singapore always being ahead of its neighbours, not only extended rebates for green cars to 2007, they also doubled the tax rebates to encourage the purchase of green cars! This initiative will not only reduce the reliance of petrol and diesel for vehicles, it will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is harmful to the environment. The tax rebates will bring the prices of green cars closer to normal petrodiesel cars and hopefully, green cars will finally get the kick-start it needed to attract buyers. Malaysia opted to promote the use of palm diesel instead, a type of biofuel that has been found to be an inefficient replacement for petrodiesel on numerous occasions. Malaysia's biofuel proposition is only a 5% replacement of diesel with palm oil. Tell me now, how is that suppose to help?

Last year, when I first proposed to a group of people about the introduction of tax rebates for environmentally-friendly cars in Malaysia, I was accused of encouraging the widening of the wealth gap among Malaysians. How is that so? This is exactly the wrong mentality that we have in our country that is holding us back. Ownership of private vehicles is used to measure someone's wealth in Malaysia. This is just so silly. Other countries are discouraging their citizens from buying cars and promoting the use of public transport instead but here in Malaysia, we are complaining of expensive cars and demanding for a chance to pollute the environment even further by owning private vehicles and shunning public transport altogether. True, our public transport is down-right atrocious but measuring someone's wealth through private vehicle ownership and demanding for cheaper cars in the process is totally wrong.

In fact, I was promoting the narrowing of the wealth gap when I proposed the tax rebates for green cars. It was not as if I was asking for green cars to be slapped with a levy to make it more expensive and unaffordable! I'm actually advocating for green cars to be made cheaper through the tax rebates so people will consider that instead of the normal petrodiesel cars. I don't see how is that encouraging the widening of the wealth gap! She's just plain ignorant and stupid (this became much clearer in recent weeks), if you asked me. Worse still, this is the kind of graduates that our public universities are producing. Sorry, POST-graduate student!!!

It is such ignorance that we must discard through the abolishment of oil subsidies. Malaysians must wake up to the reality that oil is not a renewable resource and production has reached its peak. There is no turning back now. Yes, ignorance is bliss but the longer we remain ignorant, the more painful it will be when we wake up and realise our folly. Our neighbouring countries have taken steps in the right direction to resolve this issue...when will we follow suit?


  1. yeah, the other thing we should look into is to improve the quality of public transport before expecting people to use them. and somehow the other thing is that the public still needs education on how to care for public property and also the etiquette of using the public transportation. i guess since i use the public transport often, i have done some observation. sometimes somethings people do just make me cringe in disgust. i thought people are getting higher education nowadays, but take a look at the's always the same, but i guess it's also not fair for me to generalize. maybe i should say: 'a hand full'?

  2. very true. the other day i took the bus after a hiatus of many, many years...i received a stark reminder of exactly why I had given up public transport! :(

    still i support public transport and hope the government will take action in improving and encouraging public transport. until then, i still have no choice but to accept paying extra for petrol. :(