I was astonished to read the statement by PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the sharp hike of 30 sen on petrol and other petroleum products effective Tuesday would be used for national development, particularly improving the public transportation sector.
What was surprising was Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did not mention what he and his government had been doing with the income from our oil production pumped from our soil, which is claimed to be of premium grade.
Before going any further, the PM needs to make Petronas, the company responsible for our oil reserves, accountable to the rakyat. At least with this transparency, huge amounts will not be used to bail out government failures-like failing banks, government-linked companies and other institutions.
The PM had also urged the rakyat to exercise thrift. The call made by him is very timely. He had also indicated that the rakyat should car pool to ease the burden. Since making this call, and to show his commitment as a fellow member of the rakyat, he should cut down on his official expenditures. Likewise, all the members of his team need to follow suit. If this is the example he sets, then the rakyat will be able to accept it.
The granting of tenders for this public transport development and any other development should be made public and the views and comments of the rakyat need to be taken into account. Once a suitable contractor had been shortlisted, the rakyat, through their representatives, will have to give the final green light to award the project. In this way, we can wipe out corruption and maintain accountability and transparency.
I am very sure PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his team will not agree with these suggestions and I am sure the rakyat are not to happy with this sharp hike that will be a burden to all, more so those from the lower income group.
This move by Abdullah was least expected but since he has already done it, I feel the rakyat needs to be more careful and alert in the future in granting any group of politicians an overwhelming majority which is only for them a passport to total freedom to do anything.