Malaysia offers key state more funds amid fuel anger

On Tuesday, members of the opposition Islamic party, PAS, submitted a note to the prime minister's office in the administrative city of Putrajaya against the fuel hike ahead of a march to the headquarters of state energy firm Petrona after Friday prayers.

Malaysia offers key state more funds amid fuel anger
Malaysia pledged on Tuesday 1.0 billion ringgit ($306.6 million) in extra spending for the key state of Sarawak to shore up support among political leaders unhappy over a steep rise in fuel prices.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in the eastern state for talks with ruling-party lawmakers, also promised more measures to help people tide over rising fuel costs, but he didn't elaborate, a lawmaker said.

"He pledged 1 billion ringgit for various development projects," Alex Linggi, an MP, told Reuters by telephone from the state on Borneo island.

Malaysia followed India, Indonesia, Taiwan and Sri Lanka when it raised pump prices last week and provoked a public outcry and protests by opposition groups. On Monday, Nepal became the latest Asian nation to rise prices to stem losses of a state firm.

Abdullah's trip to Sarawak, the country's top petroleum producer, came a day after he announced a cut in ministers' allowances and holidays abroad to assuage public anger over the fuel hike.

Abdullah has been trying to fend off a challenge to his leadership since his Barisan Nasional coalition in March suffered its worst electoral performance.

Last week's decision to raise petrol prices by 41 percent and diesel by 63 further soured the mood in the country.

The latest measures on cutting government costs drew derision from Malaysian blog writers who have been venting anger against the fuel hike.

"I felt sorry for PM and (the) DPM who are going to suffer," read a post on malaysiantalk.com, referring to the 10 percent cut in ministers' entertainment allowance.

Leaders in Sarawak, which together with neighbouring Sabah, accounts for a third of the lawmakers in parliament, said they would be discussing with Abdullah ways to lessen the impact of prices on the poor and for a fair distribution of government funds.

"I'm not going to fight, I just want fairness," state agency Bernama quoted Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud as saying ahead of Abdullah's trip.

Sarawak and Sabah are the bastion states for Abdullah's ruling coalition, holding firm even in the March election, but analysts say the opposition will be targeting discontented lawmakers in its bid to further weaken the government.

On Tuesday, members of the opposition Islamic party, PAS, submitted a note to the prime minister's office in the administrative city of Putrajaya against the fuel hike ahead of a march to the headquarters of state energy firm Petrona after Friday prayers.

"We feel that the nation's oil riches provided by Allah should be distributed fairly and evenly among Malaysians," PAS Youth leader Salahuddin Ayub said.

Pump prices for petrol in Malaysia are still among the lowest in Asia.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Haziran 2008, 15:55
YORUM EKLE