(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The DAP will launch a nation-wide million-signature campaign to oppose any new round of power tariff hikes without Tenaga Nasional first presenting its case to the public and giving the consumers the chance to be heard.
The Malaysian people are thoroughly fed up with endless price increases, especially by privatised behemoths like Tenaga Nasional without first convincing the consumers of the justification for a new round of price hikes when the last round of power tariff increases was only in March last year. Tenaga Nasional is making nonsense of the government’s zero inflation objective when it is increasing tariff rates every year!
When Tenaga Nasional and other government entites were privatised, the public were led to expect that the privatisation process would lead to better quality services and lower prices. In the case of the privatisation of Tenaga Nasional, however, both these expectations of the people had been proved to be completely misplaced.
After privatisation, there were not only unprecedented nation-wide blackouts like the 17-hour nation-wide blackout in August last year and the 10-day Penang Island blackout in June 1995, power interruptions in various parts of the country continue to be the rule rather than the exception - with over 100,000 power interruptions for last year alone.
Not content with a round of power tariff increases last March, Tenaga Nasional has submitted a new set of proposals to the Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, for a new power tariff structure which is kept as a top secret.
The time has come for consumers to have a say before the Cabinet decides on a new round of increases for power tariffs.
The consumers, for instance, are entitled to clear answers to the following four questions:
Firstly, why should consumers have to bear the high and exorbitant costs for the electricity charged by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) which ranged from 11.8 sen per unit to 16.5 sen per unit,when the cost of generating power by Tenaga itself is well below 10 sen per unit?
Secondly, how can Tenaga Nasional demand an increase of power tariff hikes using the over 100,000 power interruptions a year as an excuse, when the supply of secure and quality electricity had always been an implicit term of the contract between the consumers and Tenaga Nasional.
Thirdly, is Tenaga Nasional prepared to be consumer-friendly and accept legal liability to pay compensation to industry, business and consumers for losses suffered as a result of power interruptions, unless Tenaga Nasional could prove that the power interruptions were not the result of its negligence but due to factors outside its control?
Fourthly, what are the details and the breakdown of the cost of upgrading electricity supply to consumers.
However, before the DAP launches the nation-wide million-signature campaign, I will seek an appointment with the Tenaga Nasional Bhd executive chairman Datuk Dr. Ahmad Tajuddin Ali to give Tenaga Nasional an opportunity to justify its case for a new round of power tariff increases.
Ahmad Tajuddin should realise that Tenaga Nasional must not only convince the Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications but also the Malaysian public that it is justified to increase power tariffs in the country - and the treatment of consumers as a "captive market" who must pay whatever is demanded by Tenaga Nasional agreed to by the government is no more acceptable.