Fuel Price Increase Divides Malaysia

Gas station in Malaysia. Photo by Flickr user Sham Hardy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Gas station in Malaysia. Photo by Flickr user Sham Hardy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Malaysia’s recently announced fuel price hike has been met with quite diverse opinions. On one hand, many feel that the government is putting more and more pressure on households and families as well as making the cost of living much higher due to a domino effect of price increases. On the other hand, some feel that the current increase is reasonable given that Malaysia already enjoys huge fuel subsidies and has one of the lowest fuel prices in the world. Plus, many believe that the savings from the reduced subsidies would be well spent as Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that it will be channelled into the BR1M welfare fund.

Hoongling thought that Malaysians should learn to adapt to the changes:

Many people rant and blame everybody except themselves. Petrol price will hit us sooner or later, with or without government subsidies and whether or not we can control the price or whether or not we are oil producing country.

There are so many ways to save petrol. And we SHOULD save petrol not because petrol price will hit us but more for environment and a better future for our next generations.

Trav humorously agreed:

We all by all means should not feel enraged or pinched with forking up more money for fuel, and should instead look at the bright side of life. After all, with the fuel hike, these benefits can be achieved:

- With higher fuel price means petrol heads and rempits will think twice to burn fuel during Saturday nights, which means you can have quiet romantic moments with your partner. Don’t ever think of the word “I’m tired” excuse please.

- Crimes might go less! Snatch thieves may resort to bicycle or manual running since it is too much to fuel their bikes. Molotov cocktails will be too expensive which leaves arsonists to lose their jobs.

- The Selangor folks will have uninterrupted clean water since dumping expensive diesels/lubricants to rivers is not a good idea after all.

- Encourages carpool! Always want to know the cute receptionist girl in your office? Ask her where she stays and offer her the ride to work. Who knows she will become your wife which both of you can carpool for longer time.

Anil Netto was one of those opposed to the changes:

Malaysia’s middle- and working class are already squeezed by higher house prices (where are the low-cost houses?) while working class wages are suppressed by the policy of allowing cheap and more easily exploited migrant labour.

If you spend RM70 a week on petrol, you will end up paying about RM30 more a month. Expect petrol prices to get more expensive as reserves of fossil fuels are depleted and non-conventional fossil fuels become more difficult and expensive to extract.

When will we we get better public transport so that we won’t have to rely so heavily on private motor vehicles? Meanwhile, we appear to have made little progress in putting a lid on high-level corruption.

Hishamh argued that the fuel hike will have greater impact on higher income households:

The subsidy cut will disproportionately effect higher income households, not lower income households which spend a lot less on transportation (15.9% overall versus 12.3% for households earning less than RM3k per month). Strangely enough, rural households will also suffer more than urban households (slightly higher portion of transport costs).

As to why cut and why now, average global crude oil prices jumped 5% in the last month alone, and are 15% higher over a year ago. That’s well above the average the government was planning for in this year’s budget – if the deficit target was to be met, something had to give.

There were some reactions on Twitter as well:

On Facebook, a page ‘Saya Benci Harga Barang Naik!’ (I hate the increase of prices of goods) have become very popular, with almost 70,000 Likes. The cover and profile photos have been changed to reflect the rise of fuel prices, with many posting and commenting on the issue.

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