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How many millions of Malaysians fell into a paroxysm of dismay and depression - like I did - on June 4 when the prime minister announced a sharp jump in the prices of petrol and diesel?

The air had been thick with speculations about this latest round of price hike for days. Everybody had been told about the burden of the government in subsidising petrol prices at the pump when the international prices for crude oil are now hovering around US$135.

Everybody has been prepared for some kind of government measure to reduce this massive subsidy, but when it did come, few were ready for the pain and the shock. It is a little like the news of a loved one who has just passed away from a long illness. You are sort of prepared for it, but nobody is ready for the grievous hurt.

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