Monday, March 13, 2006

Petrol Price Hike Aftermath

Just a few days back, I refueled my car with petrol for the first time after the very unpopular price increase for petroleum products. With such a huge increase, even the rich will flinch at the announcement however 'insignificant' we think it may be for them.

I filled up with the usual amount and was prepared for a really heart-wrenching feeling that it would not measure up to anywhere near my previous refuelings. I was prepared for this fill-up to just fill nothing more than half a tank, if I'm lucky. Turns out, it wasn't as bad as I thoughted it would be. Not only did it exceed the half tank mark, it was comparable to previous refuelings of close to the three-quarters mark as if there wasn't any difference at all. Really shocking! Looks like my SLK is not that much affected after all. Phew! Maybe the difference may be more visible if I had filled it up to the brim. I think I'll just settle with this thought for now. :P

However, this only forms a small portion of our worries due to the price increase. It's the spillovers I'm more worried of. For example, a canister of cooking gas has increased by RM4.50 to as much as RM22.50. Now, that's A LOT! One increase will lead to another increase and this vicious cycle will eventually cause a lot of hardship for the rakyat. We have just begun to experience the effects of this cycle. Brace yourself for more in the near future when your favourite Char Koay Teow isn't that tasty or Teh Tarik isn't as sweet as it used to be realising it costs a bomb now.

If the middle-class has been complaining the recent increase, I dare not think how the lower income group is coping. Don't get me wrong. I still believe the price increase is inevitable. It had to be done sooner or later. It's just how the whole situation had and will be handled that worries me.

So far, there has been TWO street demonstrations in the Kuala Lumpur city centre already led by the opposition parties. They were mostly peaceful demonstrations but regretful nonetheless. I truly didn't like the idea of the rakyat's plight being manipulated by the opposition in such manner. In fact I do not agree that any party should do it for their own gain in guise of 'helping' the rakyat. Just despicable!

A politician even tried to 'lead by example' by taking the LRT but his attempt has been ridiculed as a publicity stunt by some prominent figures of the local blogosphere. Of course it didn't help that he was wearing an expensive suit but since when it was a crime to take the LRT wearing a suit? What did you expect him to wear instead? A pair of slacks and a polo T-shirt along with a pair of sandals? Beach-wear perhaps? Wouldn't that be more of a publicity stunt?!? If we are truly advocating the use of public transport, wouldn't we want to see businessmen, managers, corporate figures and the likes who would probably be in a business suit to be amongst the so-called Average Joes commuting on a public transport? To poke fun at this minister's effort however (in)sincere you may think he is through a caption competition is totally uncalled for. It's no different for those who supports/condones such an act. It's just shameful and hypocritical. I would be more worried of street demonstrations being used for political gain rather that some publicity stunt like this one, wouldn't you?

There has been worries that the projected RM4.4 billion saved will be channeled to bailing out GLCs instead of the promise of setting up a fund to improve the disgraceful public transportation system in the country. I'm not only worried this may be true how much they are trying to tell us it is not but also that there will be other mismanagement of the funds gained from the reduce in petrol subsidy. Is there any assurance there will not be any waste of money or the likes?

We have been told again and again to change our lifestyle to cope with the reduced petrol subsidy since the petrol price hike that it's getting really irritating. I cannot agree more with MackZul that there is no need for anyone to tell us the need to change our lifestyle. The fact is, the change in lifestyle has been forced upon us! We have no choice but to change. It wasn't an option. Change is inevitable. Just don't play us for fools. We deserve that much. If the Government was guilty of anything, it was not weaning us off the petrol subsidy much earlier when it was still managable. It would have been less painful then and less objections from the masses.

(pictures from Shagadelica and The Star)

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