Cabinet should be forewarned to immediately suspend the badly-formulated diesel supply-control measures to avert turning the 15-day rooster Chinese New Year - whether start, midway or end - into a public transportation chaos, nightmare and disaster
Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Monday): The Cabinet on Wednesay should immediately suspend the badly-formulated diesel supply-control measures to avert turning the 15-day rooster Chinese New Year beginning in a week’s time – whether at the start, midway or end – into a public transportation chaos, nightmare and disaster.
This must be the responsibility not only of the Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Shafie Apdal, but of all Cabinet Ministers, and if the 15-day Chinese New Year turn into a nation-wide chaos, nightmare and disaster, Malaysians are entitled to hold all the Cabinet Ministers to account for their collective responsibility in messing up an essential commodity and service in the country.
Should such an unprecedented public transportation disaster eventuate in the next few weeks, every Cabinet Minister should be required to explain what he or she had done at Cabinet meetings to protect the Malaysian public from such avoidable public mess and inconvenience, and why they had not realized from the public transportation chaos created by the badly-conceived diesel supply-control measures in the month of January of the urgent need to take remedial and corrective measures.
Cabinet Ministers should be forewarned that if what happened in January since the introduction of the diesel supply-control measures is any guide, no one can have any confidence that the Chinese New Year will be hassle-free. The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers has forfeited public credibility that it is capable to formulating and implementing a competent, efficient and smart plan to eradicate rampant abuses of subsidized diesel whether by industrial users or smuggling without penalizing or inconveniencing honest and legitimate users.
Two days ago, an express bus from Penang traveling south had to abandon its trip in Ipoh after failing to get diesel supply in 15 petrol stations, while in Johore Bahru, there is the ridiculous phenomenon of lorries having to go to Singapore to fill up their tanks although diesel is 154% more expensive in the island republic. All over the country in the transport industry, affecting lorries, buses and school-buses, operators and users are up in arms against the diesel supply-control measures which had failed to give priority to the interests of the consumers.
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs have failed to do sufficient home-work and study, including consultation with the industry, to come out with an efficient, competent and smart plan to eradicate rampant abuses of subsidized diesel without causing unprecedented inconvenience and harassment of the users and honest dealers. This explains why the Ministry had to change its formula of diesel supply-control at least four times in one month!
While the objective to eradicate rampant abuses of subsidized diesel has the support of all Malaysians, the failure of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs to come up with a smart plan to protect legitimate users is most deplorable, showing its failure to discharge the second limb for which the Ministry is established – “consumers affairs” – apart from responsibility for domestic trade.
An immediate suspension of the badly-conceived diesel-control measure will give the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs time and opportunity to review the weaknesses and failures of the January control measures and to put in place efficient, competent and smart counter-measures to eradicate the rampant abuses of subsidized diesel which does not penalize or victimize honest dealers and legitimate users.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman