‘Provide free transport to ease burden caused by price hike’


Baru Bian

KUCHING: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian has suggested for the state government to provide free transport for the people as a direct way to alleviate the burden caused by fuel price hikes.

Baru, who is state PKR chairman, explained that it would definitely be very helpful to the people if the government funded transportation is implemented in towns and cities in the state including in rural areas.

“Cities such as Adelaide in Australia provide free public transport within the city – something we could do also, if we had the funds from our oil resources,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

In Sarawak, Baru said the blow from the increase of 20 sen in fuel prices was even bitter, considering that Sabah and Sarawak contributed 85 per cent of the country’s oil revenue, which accounted for about 40 per cent of the nation’s revenue.

He said the domino effect of any petrol price increase is magnified and multiplied in Sarawak, especially on those in the interior where transportation is a major problem.

“Justifying the increase by saying our prices are the cheapest in the region and that it will affect the rich more because they drive petrol-guzzling cars is not going to comfort the people in rural areas, in the various resettlement villages and even those in the cities.

“People do not have a choice – how else can they get from one place to another if not by cars?”

From the way he looked at it, he said the solution was still to push for the 20 per cent oil royalty, which the State Legislative Assembly unanimously agreed should be done.

“The Prime Minister has not been forthcoming to the state’s demand, merely suggesting in August that the government is willing to negotiate our royalties, clearly with the next state elections in mind.”

He said since the present leaders were so “hopelessly out of touch with the people’s difficulties, a change of government is the only answer”.

“A Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government will increase the state oil royalties to 20 per cent as well as establish two-tier oil companies owned by the governments of Sabah and Sarawak to operate for the direct benefit of the people.”

Baru said a major contributing factor for the hike was the government’s high foreign debt, adding that being in power for over 50 years had led Barisan Nasional (BN) to be careless and reckless in its duties to the people, with corruption and leakages the norm.

“One just has to read the Auditor-General’s report each year to get an idea of the extent of this scourge.

“To add to our hall of dubious fame, last week, Malaysia was ranked as one of the most corrupt nations in a survey conducted by Ernst and Young.”

Unlike BN, he said PR will ensure that the country is run with full accountability, competency and transparency – the reason why Sarawakians must vote for change in the coming elections.