Friday, June 6, 2008

Oil money and the welfare of Malaysians

On the evening of 4th June, SMSes were flying everywhere. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi made an announcement at 5.00 p.m. about petrol hike. With effect from 12.01 a.m. the next day petrol price will be increased by RM0.78 per litre. Subsequently Ron 92 will go up 41.5% from RM1.88 to RM2.66; Ron 97 will go up 40.63% from RM1.92 to RM2.70; and diesel will go up RM1.00 or 63.2% from RM1.58 to RM2.58.

The news caused a great traffic jam and chaos all over the country. In Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, heavy rain poured down at 5.00 p.m. The rain spoke of a doom about our political atmosphere. Half way through at press reception a journalist left the room and murmured “it is political suicide”. With the petrol hike people were speculating how far Abdullah’s position will go amidst dissatisfaction among the public at large. People were panic and they rushed every household car to the petrol kiosks. The jams at KL and PJ lasted till midnight. It was a painful night. If the PM had already determined to increase the price in the first place, why could not he announce it in the morning so that the last-minute rush was unnecessary? The actions of a leader will reveal how tactful the person is.

And all the while, whenever there was an increase in petrol price, the announcement was made late in the evening as if the government wanted to catch us unprepared! I hope the people in authority do not mock the people for being “kiasu” (afraid to lose) by queuing up in order to top up their tanks, for most of them are just ordinary people who made a living from hands to mouths. If they could save a couple of ringgits it will be helpful to them.

Malaysia is an oil producing country, why could not we provide cheap fuel for the people like other oil producing countries. The president of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) from the Opposition coalition, Dr. Wan Azizah refuted the Barisan Nasional (BN) for comparing us with Singapore and Thailand. She said that we should compare with oil producing countries like UAE (RM1.19/L), Egypt (RM1.03/L), Kuwait (RM0.67/L), Saudi Arabia (RM0.38), Nigeria (RM0.32), and Venezuela (RM0.16).

Though Malaysia will become a major importer of oil by 2014, it does not mean that we are running out of oil. We are just to consume more oil by then. In fact we still have many years of supply. Our oil is of a good quality and we export it to fetch for a better price. By 2014 our import will surpass our export. But Petronas being our national oil company will still harvest billions of dollars each year.

When the government is unable to provide us with cheap petrol, they should review how the treasury was spent. Whenever world crude oil price soars by a dollar, Petronas will net in millions of dollars. And the citizens regret that Petronas is not transparent in its operations. Please do not forget that Petronas owns many joint-venture companies overseas. And what has happened to those incomes? Where did the relevant parties spend the money? It is not transparent at all!

Today we could not enjoy cheap fuel, and we could say that the ex-PM Dr. Mahathir Mohamad cannot avoid blame as well. Look especially at the two states in East Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah, today people over there began to react aggressively. All the while, oil money given by the two states to the federal government, they each could only get a return of 5% from their royalty. Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of PR, made an electoral pledge that if the Oppositions were to take over power, the government will reduce the oil price. After the General Election, Anwar has invited Members of Parliament from East Malaysia to switch nests by pledging each state with a 20% in oil royalty. Even at this moment amidst of petrol hike Anwar reaffirmed his pledge to reduce oil price should PR has the chance to rule.

How come Anwar could do it and Abdullah could not? Because Anwar has been a Minister of Finance for 6 years! He knew how the treasury was being run. It was not giving cheap fuel that would bankrupt the government but rather corruption was. In Mahathir’s tenure, on one hand he gave 5% oil royalty back to Sarawak and Sabah. And on the other hand he spent tons of money building monuments – KL Tower, Twin Towers, F1 Circuit, Putrajaya and other mega projects. Money was also used to bail out unproductive companies and given to cronies. Malaysia has become an empty shell with only outward glories. That was why Malaysia was greatly hit by the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. No, Mahathir was not the savior of Malaysia when he froze the trading of Malaysian currency overseas. He was to be answerable for the weak financial status he had created. He had caused the country’s billions of dollars being vaporized overnight. It takes 10 years for Malaysia to recover.

People have many reasons to express disappointment in the BN government under Abdullah. He knew that corruption was prevalent among his people but he has no gut to axe them. Do we need to send a so-called “astronaut” into space? It cost RM100 million to do so. If we calculate the price of low-cost apartments based on RM35, 000.00 per unit, the money burnt up by the Russian rocket could actually provide free housing for 3,000 families. And when Najib Razak, the Deputy PM cum Minister of Defense, made purchases of submarines, war-crafts and fighter jets, why must he make deals through a company which had no relevance to weapon industry? Were they not evidences of cronyism? It is sad to see that the tax-payers’ money were being squandered like that and ended up into somebody’s pockets.

Recently, out of the five states under the rule of PR, three states namely Penang, Perak and Selangor, the new governments had discovered lots of land scandals and cases of frauds in business transactions by the former BN governments. Especially in Selangor, out of the 62 projects undertaken by the state government, the rate of failure had exceeded 90%! The state government has lost billions of money as a result. No wonder why the government has not enough money for various funding and opted to petrol hike. Many people in positions were eating up the treasuries. Do not forget we still have eight more states under the BN rule. The Oppositions could not get to audit their accounts. But people have many reasons to believe that they are no better than the three states mentioned above.

With the money generated by Petronas alone each year, that is, a minimum of RM80 billion per year (not counting oversea investments), we have in fact enough money to feed the people comfortably, provided that our leaders must rule with clean hands. By the way, Malaysia could have been richer than Singapore today. We did not make it because our leaders were building “Towers of Babel” which had provoked the wrath of God.

Our oil money must be put to better use to benefit all citizens. God has a very special plan for Malaysia. He is doing a great transforming in this land. Soon there will be several new waves to hit our shores. And God will raise up Malaysia an exemplary nation bearing His seals of Justice, Righteousness and holiness.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your URL is in my blog list.

    According to Keynesian economics, public sector spending does create construction jobs for people and Mahathir probably saw himself as a Keynesian. But those mega projects gave the economy a temporary boost and did not enrich the capital stock of the economy.

    The first step is to revamp/remove the NEP so that Msians can make a fresh start and see themselves as blessed by God and not by man-made policies.

    You are right that we should pray that PAS will not gain power.