Thursday, June 5, 2008

DAP takes to the streets over price hikes

KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 – Yesterday's fuel price hike announcement by the government was immediately followed by a snaking line of cars, motorbikes and trucks at all petrol stations across the nation rushing to beat the midnight deadline for cheaper petrol, which saw a jump of some 40 per cent, from RM1.92 to RM2.70.
This morning, the DAP held a street protest against the Cabinet decision to increase fuel and power prices in Jalan Pasar in the heart of the city. Among the DAP leaders who attended the protest were Teresa Kok, Fong Kui Lun, Tan Seng Giaw, Lim Lip Eng and Janice Lee.
Led by outspoken Cheras MP, Tan Kok
Wai, the DAP protestors had gathered as early as 10am outside an Indian restaurant fronting the main road and waited almost an hour before demanding that the Government retract the price increase instantly.
"We want the Government to immediately announce that the increment will be stopped immediately because the public anger has reached to the maximum. We call on the Government to act wisely. Stop robbing the rakyat!" Tan pronounced.
He warned that the Government's failure to do so would result in a nightmare.
His colleague, Teresa Kok, added that businesses would be seriously affected by the last-minute price increase and would thereby pass on the higher costs to the consumer.
"We can anticipate the prices going up. This is a serious inflation. We've been told the Lorry Association are going to increase their transportation costs.
"We're a petrol exporting country. All these years, the government earned so much from export (of oil). Instead of increasing petrol prices, they should be giving back to the people. They don't talk about this anymore," she noted.
The street protest was a very last minute affair, Kok said. It had been decided by the party only last night. A similar protest was also held this morning in Ipoh, Perak, almost simultaneously at 11am. Kok hinted that these protests might even spread to the rest of the country.
"I anticipate that. Now the Government is talking about taking away the subsidy to bus companies. Just now my colleague, Tan Kok Wai, talked about the extravagance of the Government. How do they justify this?" she queried.
Despite the small number of actual protestors, they managed to attract a large number of curious onlookers from among the business owners and passers-by thronging the vicinity, which clogged up the narrow but popular thoroughfare. Jalan Pasar is after all a well known electronic goods paradise among locals and tourists alike.
Though most of them did not appear to support the DAP's public protest, some agreed that it was a way to draw the government's attention to the issue at hand as well as to create greater awareness among the often apathetic rakyat.
"We never said they (the government) shouldn't increase the price. We're a civilised society so don't tell us stories. You inform the people, they understand. Don't create a panic," said a bystander who was attracted to the noise from his office across the road.
The 55-year-old remisier who only wanted to be known as Kumar said that what the Government had done by its last-minute announcement was create a panic buying situation last night as economic-minded Malaysians rushed out to buy the last of the "cheap" petrol.
He himself had resorted to riding his motorcycle to the nearest petrol station to his home and filled up several containers' worth of petrol for his car. It took him three trips and over two-and-a-half hours to do so, but he felt it was worth every sen. It had saved him RM15 to RM18 of the amount he would have to pay when the new price kicked in. The Malaysian Insider

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