Monday, September 9, 2013

Motorists might pay with lives for fuel price hike, says DAP MP

There may be a deadly cost to raising pump prices for RON95 petrol and diesel without serious effort to upgrade the country’s public transport system, a DAP lawmaker warned Putrajaya today.

Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong highlighted how a previous increase had triggered road users to opt for more fuel-efficient modes of transportation to mitigate the price hike, but with deadly and unintended consequences.

“Research has shown that motorcycle fatalities shot up as a result of the March 2006 and June 2008 fuel hikes as the lower income group switched transport modes from cars to motorcycles,” Liew said in a press statement today.

“A new human disaster of more motorcycle fatalities is imminent, following the latest petrol price increase.”

Liew noted that even from Malaysia’s already high risk of road fatalities, two-wheelers faced several magnitudes more danger.

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“Motorcycle fatalities are three times higher than car fatalities, six times higher than pedestrian fatalities and nearly 50 times higher than bus passenger fatalities,” Liew said, citing research.

According to Liew, raising fuel prices in countries with adequate public transport encouraged motorists to switch from private vehicles, but this was not feasible given the state of Malaysia’s transport system.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must now draw up a national transport plan to address this shortcoming in order to mitigate the potential human costs of the fuel price increase, he added.

Najib yesterday announced a 20 sen increase to the fuel pump prices of RON95 petrol and diesel beginning today, in a bid to slash the nation’s subsidy bill and chronic budget deficit.

Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala reiterated the government’s stand to eventually stop the use of public funds to provide subsidies for citizens.

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