Friday, June 06, 2008

News - Sarikei Fuel Price Hike

Sarikei queue to beat the price hike, Jun 2008
Junction of Hospital Road and Repok Road
Source: Halamanku

Sarikei queue to beat the price hike, Jun 2008
Junction of Hospital Road and Repok Road
Source: Halamanku

It began as a whisper at around 5pm on 4 June 2008, then word of mouth in this small town turned this rumour of a huge government enforced gasoline price hike into a herd instinct. If it impacts our pockets, better queue up.

Sarikei queue to beat the price hike, Jun 2008
Junction of Hospital Road and Repok Road
Source: Halamanku

"But I thought the government has announced that they will only raise prices in August?" "If there's no smoke, there won't be fire. Go and pump full tank! Better be safe than sorry." By 7pm, the traffic jam got longer. The rumour grapevine is a well oiled (no pun intended) machinery in Sarikei.

Sarikei queue to beat the price hike, Jun 2008
Junction of Hospital Road and Repok Road
Source: Halamanku

By 8pm, the traffic jam was two cars deep in the direction towards town and one car deep in the direction from town. It's slow moving because cars could not get out of the petrol station unless they were going in the direction away from town. Sarikei has probably never seen such an massive jam before.

On 5 June, the government announced a 40% price increase for gasoline. There were protests in 3 cities in Malaysia including Kuching. Politicians had a field day. Some arguments include: why is Malaysia, a profitable oil producing country, removing oil subsidy in such tough times when prices of consumer goods have gone north and inflation is expected to be 5-6%? You can read about all the hooha in other political blogs.

Sarikei queue to beat the price hike, Jun 2008
Junction of Hospital Road and Repok Road
Source: Halamanku

The people there were in for a long night. Who says Sarikei does not have a nightlife?


Daniel Yiek said...

Some politics websites for you to read the fuel hike news:

1. News website

2. This is a fee based website but you can see the headlines.

3. RPK's blog. Famous for "No Holds Barred" and "Corridors of Power" sections.

4. Dr Mahathir's blog

lidasar said...

The petrol hike is necessary for people to be conscious of saving energy and the environment. New Zealand even have a political party that is called the Green Party where their campaign on environment take central stage. From the economy point the government saving from subsidy might be wasted just as in the pass to build mega project that only benefited those politically affiliated cronies.

Sarawak is unfortunate to be part of Malaysia otherwise we might be paying what the Bruneian are paying now and our currency could be 2.35 times stronger and with a big oil reserve too. Is it our misfortune or the poor foresight of our political leaders of the 1960s?

BurungHelang said...

Hats off to you Daniel for making frequent day trips to Sarikei from Singapore or do you have another 'you' in Sarikei?

I am in favour of the removal of all subsidies of any kind as the subsidies are not sustainable in the long term and they are stifling the free market economy and are also subject to abuse.

Kanga said...

Subsidies are political tools and will always come back to bite (farming in Japan & Europe, car manufacturing in Malaysia & Australia etc)and this time is gasoline! Also herd mentality hits Sarikei as well, truly globalised! Its a 50-litre tank not 500 litres! Still if I were to be in Sarikei I would have probably join the queue as well. I bet many also stock up with plenty of rice as well? Economic inbalances drive many people mad, including Sarikei.

Huai Bin said...

Daniel, do you know what number to call to ask about accommodations in Sebangkoi Country Resort? You seem like a guy who knows a lot about Sarikei, so naturally, you're the first one I'm approaching. Thanks in advance! Text me at 016 870 2069 or 016 888 2069.

Anonymous said...

The Sabahans dare to stand up for their deserved rights, and got what they asked for.
When will our state do the same?? Or masih tidur...

Daniel Yiek said...

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — Sarawakians are looking for some pleasant surprises from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he makes a one-day visit to the Land of the Hornbill Tuesday.

They hope the "Gawai goodies" are similar to those announced by the Prime Minister for the Sabahans during the Kaamatan festival last week.

Member of Parliament for Santubong Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who is also Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker, said: "We are expecting nothing less that what Sabah gets. It is only natural that we are hoping to get about the same. We are not going to ask what he is going to give but what he is going to offer to Sarawak."

His colleague from Bintulu and also Barisan Nasional Backbencher Club chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said he hoped Abdullah would address the lack of funds for infrastructure projects in rural areas.

He said although there no such a demand, Sarawakians were hoping the federal government would understand their need for rural development.

Datuk Billy Abit Joo of Hulu Rejang shared Tiong's sentiments and said the policy makers should not peceive that rural folks in Sarawak were okay with their situation though they were not making demands.

"The development for rural areas is for basic human needs. They need every assistance from the federal government to build clinics and other basic infrastructure.

"In Sarawak, we don't talk so much about position. Sarawakians are too polite sometimes, hoping that people will understand their needs," he said.

Last week, Abdullah unveiled several measures to address some of the major problems faced by Sabah. They include the setting up of a Sabah State Development Office in place of the Sabah Federal Development Department, a RM1 billon special allocation for rural development and the formation of a Cabinet committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to overcome Sabah’s long standing illegal immigrant and refugee problem.

Sarawakians also hope Abdullah would address the high cost of transportation especially following the fuel price increase on Wednesday despite Sarawak being one of the major oil producing states with large oil fields.

Although they understand that the global oil price is beyond the government's control, many feel a bigger subsidy should be extended to the Sarawakians.

Among other things, Sarawak is expected to benefit from a federal plan to introduce standard prices for nine control items namely sugar, petrol, diesel, steel, cement, wheat flour, condensed milk, chicken and cooking oil.

The prime minister is expected to announce the appointment a Sarawakian senior government official as the new federal Sarawak financial officer.

Ahead of Abdullah's visit, some community leaders interviewed by local dailies voiced their dissatifaction and even questioned, for example, why the state did not get better deal in oil royalty.

"They (federal government) should give us more than five per cent. It's very hard to understand why they won't increase this sum to allow our state government to push other industries like agriculture," said one of them named Kapitan Chan.

"Has the federal government ever wondered why people in rural areas need four-wheel-drive vehicles?" said Wee Hong Seng, Sarawak Tourism Federation president. "It's not that these rural folk are rich. It's a necessity given the terrible road infrastructure. So now these people will be penalised further.”

The state government is expected to raise the issue of high transportation cost in sending fuel and food to smaller towns and remote areas in Sarawak during Abdullah's visit.

Sarawak is heavily dependent on road and riverine transport to carry food and other essentials to its population while rural schools, longhouses and villages rely heavily on fuel for their power generators as they are not connected to the state power grid.

This is common in rural areas such as Medamit in Ulu Limbang to Baram, Bario, Ba Kelalan, Marudi, Bintulu, Sibu, Kapit and Julau.

"The federal government needs to be advised properly on the matter. The interior people must be assisted. Federal officers must look at Kapit, Song and Bario and work out plans how to help these people," said John Sikie, State Assemblyman for Kakus. — Bernama

Tuan Lokong said...

I guess this subsidy is on paper, especially for an oil producing countries like ours. Yet we have our own refineries. In many oil producing countries crude oil sold in-house at stipulated prices lower that of internationals. Giving example in Sudan Refineries here still buy the crude for only USD49 per barrel.

Therefore there is no fuel hike at all. But then everyday government say they subsidised because they still compare the world market price and the differnce is the subsidy. Phisically no suffering in cash.

I hope it is like this in Malaysia or worst?

Daniel Yiek said...

Interesting news on how the PM is trying to prevent Anwar from convincing Sarawak and Sabah MPs to jump ship to his party.

Only time will tell whether this is in time because Anwar claimed he has enough numbers from Sarawak and Sabah and make an announcement later in the year.

KUCHING: It was the news Sarawak had hoped Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would bring on his one-day working visit to the state yesterday.

After watching with envy what its neighbour Sabah got, when the prime minister went there 10 days ago, Sarawak, too, is getting more funds.

Prior to his departure, Abdullah announced that Sarawak, like Sabah, would be given an additional RM1 billion for the development of basic infrastructure in rural areas.

It would primarily go to the construction and tarring of feeder roads to villages and longhouses, installing piped water and lighting up rural communities.

He also announced that the government was stepping up efforts to eradicate poverty in Sabah and Sarawak and increasing monetary assistance to the poor.

"The government will continue to focus on the eradication of poverty and to bring the level to 2.8 per cent by 2010."

To tackle the problem more systematically, the prime minister announced the formation of a focus group specifically for Sabah and Sarawak.

He disclosed that a census carried out by the group on the poor and very poor in Sarawak was 98 per cent complete and would be ready by the end of this month.

To date, there are 42,654 families living below the poverty line of RM1,500 a month.

"They have now been entered into the national databank on the poor, Bank Data Kemiskinan Nasional (e-Kasih)."

Abdullah said once the census had been completed, the government would be in a better position to tackle poverty.

"But as the first step, the government will provide assistance to the poor in the urban and rural areas."

There were also some goodies in the prime minister's bag for Sarawak MPs.

He said the government would allocate RM15,000 a month to the state to pay for rental of helicopters to enable MPs of remote constituencies to service their areas.

The issue of appointing more Sarawakians to senior federal posts in the state was also addressed when he announced the appointment of Mat Omar Jusoh as the state's new federal financial officer and a cross-posting programme where officers in the state civil service could to be posted to the federal service to fill senior positions.

"The government has noted that despite the high number of people from Sarawak in the federal civil service, few were appointed to senior positions in the past."

An elated Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said he was more than happy with the RM1 billion allocation.

"I am very happy," he said after seeing the prime minister off.

The bulk of the money, he said would go to speed up the rural electrification programme.

The allocation, Taib said, would top up the additional allocations state assemblymen had been given. The Federal Government allocated RM250,000 to each assemblyman with the state matching that allocation.

Taib, rather peeved with a news report that stated Sarawak only received RM400 million in price stabilisation subsidies for rice while Sabah received RM1.5 billion, was grinning when informed the report was erroneous.

Sabah and Sarawak were allocated RM200 million each. The RM1.5 billion was for cooking oil subsidy.

The prime minister flew in after midnight yesterday. He had a closed-door briefing with state leaders and senior civil servants here before flying to Sebuyau, in Sri Aman division, to open the RM6.8 million Batang Sebuyau bridge.

While there, he said part of the RM4 billion the government had approved for stepping up food production and raising the income of the rural population in the country would go to agriculture projects in five rural areas - Sri Aman, Lingga, Sarikei, Kapit, Batang Sadong and Telang Usan. These are outside the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (Score) area.

"The people will be introduced to modern agricultural methods, which can help them increase their yield and, subsequently, income."

He said those who were now earning RM300 a month could expect their incomes to increase to RM1,500.

"We already have Arab investors eyeing these projects."

Abdullah also said the government would review all the approved projects to ensure they benefited the people.

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