It seems that many quarters of the Malaysian public are getting very agitated with the fuel price hike. As a Malaysian living overseas, I can only say that even with the price hike, Malaysians are still paying less for petrol than most Western countries, including the US.
After conversion, the price per gallon of petrol in Malaysia will be US$2 as compared to the US$2.35 average in the US.
The last time I was in Japan and Hong Kong, those countries were paying US$3.50 and US$4.50 per gallon respectively! Furthermore, in the US, the prices of petrol are adjusted at an almost daily basis to reflect daily market price fluctuations. In Malaysia, the prices are fixed at the national level below international prices because the government is already subsidising the commodity.
There is no political or social agenda on the part of the Malaysian government as these prices are actually beyond the control of any single national government. The real problem is that we are facing growing demand for petrol as Asian giants India and China continues to industrialise and compete for the same finite fossil fuel resources as the rest of the industrialised world. The problem of political instability in producer nations like Iraq and Iran have exacerbated the rising cost of petrol as anxiety levels in the world market increase.
My advice to my fellow Malaysians is to review our petrol consumption patterns and where possible cut down on unnecessary travel with the family car. Malaysians are used to the idea of taking the Proton even to ferry people from one place to another within a distance one kilometre.
The shopping mall parking lots are filled to the brim during weekends with many single occupancy vehicles. City and municipal governments need to re-emphasise the development of public transportation to cut down on private car usage. Malaysian driving and commuter habits are actually very similar to those in America, resulting in a highly petrol-dependent population.