Sunday, September 8, 2013

Najib's GE13 Reward

The state of the global economy is uncertain. The situation in the Middle East is fragile. And the value of the ringgit is already plummeting. It is against this backdrop that Najib Razak on Monday notified Malaysians that RON95 petrol and diesel will go up by 20 sen effective midnight on that day itself. In the same breath, he urged businesses not to increase the prices of goods and services when making the announcement.

Then Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Hasan Malek revealed a dubious study done by his ministry on the effect of the fuel price increase and with a cavalier attitude, he said that food prices are expected to go up by only 0.1%!

Didn’t I use the word ‘dubious’? Any Malaysian will tell you that prices of other goods will surely go up and it is definitely not by 0.1%. I am trying very hard to believe that Hasan is not an idiot, and, therefore, I would like to believe that he was probably making a joke – an asinine joke at that – to get Malaysians to laugh at his stupidity and therefore, deflecting their anger at the prime minister.

And on Friday, the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in a blog posting that the hike in fuel price should only result in a 5% increase in the prices of goods and services. I suppose he too thought that Hasan was joking.

If you care to read that particular posting, and you scrolled further down, you will read that he had written that the increase in the price of goods and services should only be about 5% to 10%. Now, he is making an allowance for another 5% because he wasn’t too sure either. But whatever it is, it is merely a number to him – he doesn’t need to grieve. He is more than adequately protected from price increases because his ill-gotten wealth will ensure he leads a life of luxury for the rest of his effing existence!

Let me bring you back to another similar occasion from the past. On February 28, 2006, there was a 30 sen increase in the price of petrol and diesel. Shafie Apdal, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister promptly promised that the impact of the price hike on essential goods will only be 0.12%. The next day, the Pan-Malaysia Lorry Owners’ Association (representing 10,000 lorry owners nationwide), citing this 30 sen jump in fuel price, said it was slapping on a fuel surcharge of 15 sen per kilometer with immediate effect.

We know that prices of many other goods and services went up and up, and hurting ordinary Malaysians. They were made to suffer disproportionately.

Isn’t the 2006 example frighteningly identical? Would it be any different this time around? The howls of protests have been loud. The groans of pain are already palpable. The impact on the middle and lower-middle classes could be stinging and for the poor, needless to say, it will be devastating. For sure, the pockets of Malaysians will be even lighter. Prices of many items and services will rise. Even the government is hinting that electricity tariffs are next. Then, GST. 

Petrol price hike is always the mother-trigger of ALL price hikes! All Malaysians know this fact! So who are these people trying to fool? Anyway, a big thank you to the 47% of Malaysians who voted for Najib and BN in GE13!

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