(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The 'lights off' policy of the Tampin District Council, where it cuts off electricity supply for four hours every day from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to save costs, has been reported by a Hong Kong newspaper, giving a very negative impression about what is happening in Malaysia. The Tampin District council should immediately revoke its 'four-hour lights off' policy before more negative reports appear in the international media giving the impression that Malaysia is on the verge of bankruptcy
Today's South China Morning Post in Hong Kong carried the following report, under the headline, "Malaysia - Blackout highlights current cash crisis":
IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur
Penny-pinching councillors are plunging their small town into darkness to save cash and get people to bed earlier.
If residents were scared by the new-found darkness they could always turn on their porch lights, an official said.
The council in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan state, throws the switches for four hours at 1 am every night to save on electricity as part of the Government's nationwide austerity plan.
Not surprisingly, police and residents are against the plan.
Residents complained the torrential rains accompanying the southeast monsoon made visibility poor even in lighted areas.
And with the lights out, motorists and motorcyclists were in danger of hitting the cows and buffaloes grazing along the town's roads.
State police chief Superintendent Mohamad Ariff Fadzillah said the policy puts the public in unnecessary danger.
He said the police were more concerned about public safety than public savings and that street lamps helped guard against crime.
But the council was unrepentant, claiming it had the backing of the state housing and local government committee.
District Officer Othman Rashid said the lights-off policy would shave up to 40 per cent off of its monthly M$80,000 (HK$178,400) electricity bill.
The nightly blackout extends over several key roads in a 50-kilometre radius of Tampin and a major housing estate.
The Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar should intervene immediately in the interests of the good international reputation of Malaysia. The Information Minister, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat should give his personal attention to this latest international embarrassment to Malaysia, which cannot do Malaysia's international media image any good.