Wednesday, August 20, 2008

RM6 per litre Diesel in Balaga

Those Malays in Semanjung Malaysia are indeed lucky lots. The natives in remote Belaga in Sarawak have to forked out RM6 for a litre of Diesel.

Can't they claim their petrol rebate from POS Malaysia ? Forget it. Those folks operate longboats and don't have the "pink card". Another silent oppression from the federal government which device policy that favour the Malays.

Sarawak rural folks pay dearly for fuel


BINTULU: The more than one million folks in interior Sarawak are still paying exorbitant prices for petrol and diesel in spite of the Government’s promise of a rural fuel-transportation subsidy scheme.

In semi-rural towns like Belaga, diesel continues to be sold at more than RM6 per litre, which is twice the price in cities and towns.

In places that are categorised as truly rural (not accessible by roads) such as the deeper areas of Kapit and Baram, the cost is even higher.

The rural populace, who form 50% of Sarawak’s 2.3 million population, have been forced to bear this burden despite repeated assurances from politicians at state and federal levels that the Government will subsidise the transportation cost of supplying fuel to all rural and semi-rural towns and villages.

This promise was made during the state elections in 2006 and repeated during last year’s Budget speech and the March general election, but nothing has changed.

A check by The Star yesterday showed that in Belaga, located 150km from Bintulu, diesel still costs about RM5 per litre.

“If the transportation subsidy scheme is functioning, fuel prices for rural folks must be reduced already, but this had not happened,” said social activist Michael Jok, a former Catholic priest in the Belaga region.

“Many people living in interior Sarawak are very confused. And, whether they like it or not, they are still at the mercy of fuel suppliers.

“No matter how high the fuel prices, they must still buy fuel or else their generators, vehicles, rice mills and longboat engines cannot function.

“The Government must explain what is actually happening and how much longer the rural people must bear this burden,” he said.

A check with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry revealed that the rural fuel-transportation scheme was not being implemented by the ministry, but directly by the Treasury.

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