DAP man: S’wak govt should encourage more competition among LPG distributors, not ‘kill off competitors’

Chong Chieng Jen (file photo)

KUCHING, Nov 28: The Sarawak government should encourage more competition amongst liquified petroleum gas (LPG) distributors rather than ‘killing off’ existing competitors.

Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen said this in a press statement following news that Petros Niaga Sdn Bhd (Petros Niaga) will become the sole distributor for 700,000 subsidised LPG cylinders throughout Sarawak starting Dec 1, 2023.

Chong said whether it is the matter of the licence being expired, terminated, or not renewed, it leads to the same consequence — that MyGaz will not be allowed to sell and distribute LPG to consumers in Sarawak and that subsidised LPG sales and distribution business is now a monopoly business in Sarawak.

“As indicated by the Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Sarawak (Dato Sri Julaihi Narawi), there are about 700,000 LPG tongs (cylinders) in circulation in the Sarawak market. MyGaz’s current market share is about 32 per cent while the remainder (68 per cent) are sold and distributed by Petros Niaga.

“By refusing to renew the distribution licence of MyGaz in Sarawak, the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government is literally ‘killing off’ the competition in this distribution industry and allowing Petros Niaga to monopolise the industry,” said Chong.

The Padungan assemblyman said there is no basis for the Sarawak government to create this ‘monopoly’ over the service, and added it was ‘absurd’ for the minister to ‘skirt the issue’ by saying MyGaz still has the right to supply non-subsidised LPG in the State.

“Bearing in mind that all consumers in Sarawak are purchasing the subsidised LPG and only a handful of industrial players are using non-subsidised LPG, such a claim from the minister did not, at all, address the detrimental effects of the monopoly created by the State government.

“As the LPG distribution rights involve the provision of an essential service to the people of Sarawak, all the more, the State government should encourage more competition amongst such service providers rather than ‘killing off’ existing competitors and allowing one service provider to monopolise such essential service,” said Chong, who is also Stampin MP.

He then drew comparison with the telecommunication industry, whereby after Telekom’s ‘monopoly’ was broken, several service providers like Maxis and DiGi were established, improving telecommunication services for the people.

Chong then questioned the State government’s concern about local ownership in relation to Petronas Dagangan Berhad, which is not a Sarawak-based company, and which owns 49 per cent of the shares in Petros Niaga.

He added that if GPS wants to practise ‘protectionism policy’, there can still be two or three other local companies appointed to distribute LPG in Sarawak instead of only one. — DayakDaily