NGO: Sarawak exclusion from fuel subsidy scheme unfair to B40 group

Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

KUCHING, Oct 8: Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) has criticised the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s new targeted fuel subsidy scheme as unfair to the lower income group in the state.

However, the association welcomed the capping of RON95 price at RM2.08 per litre for Sarawak to cushion living expenses to the people across the board.

Its chairman Datuk John Lau expressed disappointment that the lower income B40 group will not be entitled to receive the fuel subsidy of RM48 every four months for motorcycle owners and RM120 quarterly for car owners.

“Is this fair? If Sarawak, Sabah and Malaya are equal partners as spelled out in Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), shouldn’t Sarawak also be included in the fuel subsidy scheme? What Malaya has, Sarawak should have too,” he said in a statement.

“A government must serve the great majority of the people. Whatever the government does, it should unite the people. Take roots and blossom among us, not to divide us,” he opined.

Lau reminded Putrajaya that Sarawak is an oil producing state, which has contributed significantly to the country and thus, definitely deserved to enjoy cheaper fuel.

“Petronas in Sarawak produced an average of 850,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day but the road condition in Sarawak is still way behind that in Peninsular Malaysia.

“What Petronas mined in Sarawak, we only get 5 per cent oil royalty. In basic calculation, for every RM100 oil extracted from Sarawak, we only get RM5,” he said.

Lau also questioned what happened to Pakatan’s promise made prior to the 14th general election (GE14) about reducing RON95 to RM1.50 per litre, increasing oil royalty to 20 per cent and returning 50 per cent taxes collected from Sarawak.

He urged the federal government to seriously look into these issues, while reminding that people are the fundamental force in deciding the future and destiny of this country.

“The expectation of a better life does not allow us to be complacent but requires us to work harder to enable everyone to share more fruits of development in a fairer way and move steadily towards common prosperity,” he said.

“Democracy is like seeds, and citizens in the country is the soil. Democracy puts the people first. A government that is pretentious will be abandoned by the people sooner or later,” he advised.

Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, announced yesterday (Oct 7) that once the scheme kicks off in January next year, the price of RON95 will be floated based on market prices then in Peninsula, while the price is fixed at RM2.08 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

He explained that this is because it does not cost so much for the government to subsidise RON95 in East Malaysia, adding that there are many more diesel car users there.

In addition, only recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) who are based in Peninsular Malaysia are entitled for the payment via cash transferred into their bank accounts.

While the targeted fuel subsidy is expected to benefit 2.9 million deserving Malaysians starting next year, the impact on other consumers is yet to be seen or assessed. — DayakDaily