05 June 2008

How now brown cow ? Oil price naik kow kow ...

It wasn't unexpected. It wasn't like a bolt of lightning suddenly on a fine sunny day. It wasn't like your girlfriend coming up to you and told you her period stopped. It's not like that at all.

We all knew it was going to happen. We all expected it to happen. And when it happened, after all the waiting with bated breath, obviously, we're all angry. I can see fists knuckling, and faces turn stoic when the news that oil price was increasing quite dramatically filtered into the office.

For something that we've waited for so long to happen, the reaction was somewhat of a mystery to me. I expected Malaysians to queue the petrol stations and cause jams. I expected many of them to blog (like me). I know many will ponder about Petronas money. And I know many will accuse the government of turning its back on all Malaysians in their hour of need.

What I didn't expect was the instant knee jerk reaction. My economy rice some days before, consisting of a modest portion of rice, a chicken dish, and two portions of vegetables, cost me RM3.50. Today, the same dish is RM6.00. "Cost of electricity and fuel up", the uncle repeated again and again to everyone in the queue today.

I'm sure loads of other small traders will take advantage and increase prices. Or reduce portions. Either way, my ringgit will do less for me now. Not like it was doing a whole lot for me.

We have the lowest fuel price in ASEAN (except Indonesia and Brunei, the other 2 major oil producing nations in ASEAN).

But we have the most number of tolled roads anywhere I know of. Someone, correct me if I'm wrong.

We have really expensive cars. We're subsidising Proton as well in that sense, aren't we? Why aren't those subsidies lifted?

As a middle class Malaysian, I get nothing in terms of tax breaks that is considered special.

We have the nicest government buildings with the shittiest service provided inside. Nice buildings costs a lot, counts for nothing, and can't hide that fact that the counter services are probably on par only with 3rd world nations.

We have corruption blatantly going on (Port Klang Free Trade Zone, MITI Building, all the highway consessions, all those gravy trains). Corruption is a hidden cost. It's public money that is unaccounted for.

And above all this, the essential infrastructure and services remain at a very poor state. Our public schools, the public health care system, the universities, the public transportation systems, the utilities and local government services.

I want to be balanced in my criticism. I realise the market price for oil has increased astronomically. I realise that the subsidy bill is no longer affordable. There isn't one thing that the government can do about it.

However, the timing of the fuel price increase, the way the government managed the public's expectations, the message to all of us that we need to be austere and adapt to a new reality in life, and the speed of the announcement, in my opinion, was badly done.

The public was alerted earlier that it would be August before any real change is in place. But it happened overnight. This probably indicates how seriously short of money the government is that it can't even wait for 2 more months.

The public's expectations have not been managed properly as well. No denying all Malaysians have foreseen the price increase, but the quantum, and the speed caught many people out. I believe an announcement earlier, plus some advance warning, perhaps up to a week, would have created a better situation.

The worst part of it all is how we're asked to manage our lifestyles with increased fuel and electricity prices.

Would the PM and his government leaders lead the way by using less police escorts around our jammed streets to feel our pain, being stuck in the jam, burning expensive oil because we don't have a good public transportation system?

Would the PM and his government lead measures to reduce all the kenduri's and majlis makan malam's organised with tax payer money ?

Would the PM and his government commit to reducing fuel and electricity expenses at their respective department's premises to save tax payer money?

Would the PM and his government actually use our public transportation system to feel the pain instead of just giving lip service about improving public transportation?

I am committed to making changes in my life to adapt to the new oil prices and their impact. I am preparing to welcome a new government any time now.


pelf said...

I soooo loved this, "We have the nicest government buildings with the shittiest service provided inside."


zeroimpact said...

We have everything and yet we are nothing
Bloody stupid people to start with and they have deep pockets... deeper than the black holes

Chev said...

what u mentioned is true...
and ditto to "I am preparing to welcome a new government any time now." :)

allen said...

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