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Malaysians stage rare anti-govt protest over fuel

From of March 03, 2006

                                                 - Malaysiakini photo.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 (Reuters) - Nearly 1,000 Malaysians protested in the capital on Friday against fuel price rises, the first significant anti-government demonstration in years.
Protesters, led by the main opposition Islamic party, chanted anti-government slogans and called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down over his government's decision this week to raise pump prices by another 20 percent.
"Prices rise, Badawi should step down," said one banner.
"We ordinary people are suffering. This is a betrayal by the government," Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) deputy chief Nasharudin Mat Isa told the rally outside the Petronas Twin Towers, headquarters of state oil company Petronas.
Dozens of riot police, backed by water cannons, kept a tight security cordon around the 88-storey towers.
There was no violence, but Kuala Lumpur had not seen a large anti-government demonstration under Abdullah's rule. He took power in 2003 and has sought to heal the wounds of the late 1990s when financial and political crises provoked major street protests.
The government this week raised pump prices of petrol and diesel by about a fifth, as part of a long-term plan to cut $1.2 billion in fuel subsidies that are burning a hole in its budget.
Since October 2004, the regulated pump price of petrol has jumped 40 percent and diesel has doubled.
Friday's protesters also took aim at Petronas, Malaysia's largest and most profitable company, saying it was making money from high oil prices while the poor paid more for fuel.
Malaysia is not alone in the region in being forced to cut fuel subsidies and risk a public backlash. In neighbouring Indonesia, a similar move led to angry protests last year.

EARLIER STORY

Petrol Price Up Again

From Bernama of February 27, 2006

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 (Bernama) -- The retail price for petroleum products including diesel will be raised by another 30 sen effective Tuesday.
"The government has decided to raise the retail price of petrol and diesel by 30 sen per litre and the price of LPG by 30 sen per kilogram effective tomorrow (Tuesday)," said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office Monday night.
The increase was to tackle the impact from the increase in the price of crude petroleum in the world market and to curb the increase in subsidy which had to be borne by the government, the statement said.
However, the statement said that the government gave an assurance that there would be no further raise in the retail price of petroleum products this year.
The last time the government raised the retail price of petroleum products was on July 31, 2005 where the price of petrol went up by 10 sen per litre, diesel by 20 sen per litre and LPG by five sen per kilogram.
The new price of RON 97 petrol is now 192 sen per litre, RON 92 Petrol -- 188 sen per litre, Diesel -- 158.1 sen per litre and LPG -- 175 sen per kilogram.
In Sabah, RON 97 Petrol will cost 190 sen per litre, RON 92 Petrol -- 188 sen per litre, Diesel -- 158.4 sen per litre and LPG -- 183 sen per kilogram.
In Sarawak, RON 97 Petrol will cost 191 sen per litre, RON 92 Petrol -- 188 sen per litre, Diesel 157.8 sen per litre and LPG -- 183 sen per kilogram. All the new prices are higher by 30 sen.
"The retail price for petroleum products is being raised because in 2005 the amount of subsidy borne by the government was RM7.41 billion. Whereas tax exemption stood at RM7.85 billion.
"The burden of subsidy and tax exemption borne by the government from January to February 2006 was RM1.19 billion and RM1.44 billion respectively," the statement said.
The statement said that without subsidy and tax exemption provided by the government, the retail price of these products in March 2006 would be higher.
Without the subsidy and tax exemption, the price of RON 97 in the peninsula would have been RM2.46 per litre, RON 92 -- RM2.37 per litre, Diesel -- RM1.98 per litre and LPG -- RM3.21 per kilogram.
In Sabah, RON 97 petrol without subsidy and tax exemption would have been RM2.45 per litre, RON 92 -- RM2.37 per litre, Diesel -- RM1.97 per litre and LPG -- RM3.35 per kilogram.
In Sarawak, the price of RON 97 petrol without subsidy and tax exemption would have been RM2.45 per litre, RON 92 -- RM2.36 per litre, Diesel -- RM1.97 per litre and LPG -- RM3.34 per kilogram.
"Although the government is raising the price of petroleum products, diesel and LPG, the price of petrol and diesel in Malaysia is still cheaper compared to the price of most of these products in the Asean countries except for Brunei Darussalam," the statement said.
The statement also said the price of petroleum products in several other countries, including Asean countries, was higher than in Malaysia. per litre), diesel (RM2.28 per litre) and LPG (RM1.65 per kilogram).
In Thailand, the price of RON 97 petrol is RM2.52 per litre, RON 92 (RM2.45 per litre), diesel (RM2.28 per litre) and LPG (RM1.65 per kilogram).
The price in the Philippines is RM2.21 per litre for RON 97 petrol, RON 92 (RM2.20 per litre), diesel (RM1.95 per litre) and LPG (RM4.90 per kilogram).
In Singapore, it is RM4.15 per litre for RON 97 petrol, RON92 (RM3.89 per litre), diesel (RM2.39 per litre) and LPG (RM5.32 per kilogram) while in Brunei the price for RON 97 petrol is RM1.22 per litre, RON 92 (RM1.19 per litre), diesel (RM0.71 per litre) and LPG (RM1.40 per kilogram).
In Indonesia, it is RM2.30 per litre for RON 97 petrol, RON 92 (RM2.20 per litre), diesel (RM1.68 per litre) and LPG (RM1.89 per kilogram).
The statement said the government had also introduced a diesel subsidy system for 84 per cent of vehicles in the land transport sector comprising public transport operators and consumer goods services through the use of fleetcards.
"With the use of fleetcards, they are able to buy diesel at a subsidised price of 15 sen lower than the fixed price," it said, adding that the Domestic and Consumer Affairs Ministry had issued a letter to inform the eligible operators of the matter.
The Prime Minister's Office also said the financial savings from the increase in the price of petroleum products would be used to finance development projects and improve the public transport system for the benefit of the people.


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