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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Rakyat miskin kian menderita

Kementerian Pembangunan Usahawan dan Koperasi (Enterpreneur and Cooperation Development Ministry) has allowed an increase of 30% in surcharge for public transport fares starting this April. As we know, the same Ministry has already granted a 30% increase in surcharge last October during the Aidilfitri celebrations.

This high increase happened in a time where most citizens are worried about the incoming recession. This is just illogical. 10,000 people in the production industry had just lost their jobs last month. More is to come.

The poor people depend on public transport in a need to go to places that they need to go. Balik kampung ke, pergi kerja dan balik ke, etc... Not to mention that the price of essential goods (necessities) and other services has shot up during the price increase of petrol last June from RM1.92 to RM2.70. The poor people of Malaysia are really suffering.

It's just weird when world petrol prices are at a low. Now it is within the range of $35-$40 per barrel. Around RM145 per barrel based on our currency prices. One barrel of oil is up to about 160 litres. Of course, not all of the oil is suitable for normal vehicle use. Some of it will be used for generating electricity and for other uses as well.

However, isn't it illogical for the Ministry to increase surcharge at a time where world oil prices are decreasing on a whole? Even in the very least, what they can do is maintain the surcharge and not to increase any more burden on those who needs public transport.

As you can see, public transport operators, especially buses, gave a reason that the spare parts and maintenance are getting more and more expensive. And our necessities had risen in price because of the increase in price of petrol last time.

As operation costs increase, the burden is shifted onto the people. This just ain't fair on the low income and the middle but low income earners. Time and time again, the government has claimed that it is protecting the interests of the people. Also, they have given the people a guarantee that the money from the increase in petrol price will be used to improve public transport convenience.

It is also supposed to go for improving the quality of public transports. But what happened to the RM4 billion? Bus and taxi services remained the same and yet, fares continue to increase in price. Furthermore, the bus services in the villages are getting worse until some commuters had to wait for hours for the buses to arrive. Even Rapid Penang had improved in services and quality under the Lim Guan Eng administration. Mainstream media politicises Penang being in Chinese hands when Lim Guan Eng became CM. But they didn't realise or simply put a blind eye that Penang before was under Gerakan, also Chinese-dominated, led by Koh Tsu Koon. And what did the mainstream media do during that period? NOTHING. So why politicise now? Such rhethorics.

This issue of public transport needs the direct involvement of the federal government. Not leave it to some private companies who are not obliged to be socially-responsible. Even if this costs the government some money, why not, if it is for the benefits of the people? We have seen traffic jams everyday because most people used their own cars to go to work. But can we blame them for using their own cars if the services of public transport mostly remains in the dumps?

Of course, carpooling is another solution. But it is just not practical enough when many people go to work in many different places. There are applications of car pooling, but only to a certain extent. Once public transport services improves, more and more people will be attracted to taking public transport in going to work, and thus freeing the roads of valuable roadspace. But in the situation where quality public transport services remain in the dumps and increasing fare prices, we won't see the traffic jams coming to an end in the foreseeable future.