Thursday 19 May 2011

Anwar says to cut fuel and car prices

May 19, 2011
Anwar said support for PR remained “promising” despite appearances to the contrary. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today pledged his Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition towards reducing fuel prices if voted to power. He also said that a PR government would reduce taxes on foreign cars.

“Petrol price: Look at the [government] revenue. We should not burden the people. We can reduce the price.
“Import duty: We will certainly review and reduce tax,” he told netizens during a live online chat session hosted by Yahoo! Malaysia this morning.

When reminded of PR’s promise to abolish highway tolls plus the need to maintain roads and service quality at an optimum standard, Anwar said, “Toll: Maintenance will be assured.”

The PR de facto leader’s promise comes as the Barisan Nasional (BN) government faces rising discontent over its plan to phase out subsidies, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently described as “opium” to the Malaysian economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also recently signalled the inevitability of price hikes when announcing that the country’s subsidy burden was expected to double this year from RM10.32 billion to RM20.58 billion, with RM18 billion for petroleum-related sectors.

Last week, the government announced a 20 sen hike in sugar prices, now RM2.30 per kg, and that the diesel super subsidy for nine categories of commercial vehicles would be abolished effective June 1.

Opposition lawmakers quickly hit out at the administration for the subsidy cuts, saying the government had failed to introduce measures that would cushion the impact of price hikes on lower income groups.

DAP also urged the Najib administration to first cut billion-ringgit subsidies for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) rather than burden the people with subsidy cuts on essential items.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah today announced that the controversial gas subsidies for the IPPs are presently under review.

Today, Anwar was also asked of his plans for national carmaker Proton should PR come to power.
“Let’s say today, you’re Prime Minister of Malaysia. Are you going to protect Proton?” asked one netizen.
Anwar replied, “Priority: defend consumers and protect citizens’ interest.”

The Permatang Pauh MP also expressed confidence that despite reports claiming otherwise, support for PR remained “promising”.

He bandied the results of the just-concluded Sarawak state polls, where PR more than doubled its seat representation in the assembly, as a clear example of this.

“Mainstream media propaganda. The reality on the ground is still promising. Example: Sarawak elections,” he replied, when it was pointed out that popular perception indicated that PR had lost ground since Election 2008.

Anwar also accused Umno and Malay rights group Perkasa of being the only parties that were insistent on playing the race card to woo support, adding that “most Malaysians reject racism.”

He said this when asked if racism could be completely eradicated in the country.

During the chat session, Yahoo! also conducted an impromptu poll seeking netizens’ opinions on the biggest problem facing Malaysia at the moment.

Dirty politics topped the list at 57 per cent, followed by corruption (21 per cent), racial/religious problems (11 per cent), the economy (seven per cent) while brain drain and education were tied at two per cent.

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