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Some Malaysians are angered by the 33 percent hike in Telekom Malaysias local fixed-line telephone rates, but expressed resignation at the governments decision.

According to V Rajah Gopal, yesterdays announcement was another demonstration of the government executing decisions at its whim.

They make random changes as long as it benefits someone, but never the public. Look at the increase in toll rates, he decried.

However, he did not expect Malaysians to protest against the decision.

The general public will just remain silent because of the prevailing sentiment that it wont make a difference even if they make some noise. And do you think people will actually protest by not using their phones? asked the 34-year-old lawyer.

Mr Chow, a 45-year-old businessman who runs his own consulting company, expressed fears of retribution if he made his dissatisfaction known to the government.

What can the ordinary citizen do about it? Of course I am unhappy but if I complain, my phone lines may get cut off. I could consider other providers, but who knows, they might also increase their rates later, and Telekom might not take me back, he said with a wry smile.

When asked about the tariff decrease for international calls, he said that it would not be of much benefit to his business.

As it is I use Time-Gold, which allows me to save already. Plus if you do make international calls, youre would not be chatting for a long time, he added.

The government said that the cut in international call rates by up to 67 percent was a bid for Telekom to become more competitive and to help businesses here.

New Telekom tower

Meanwhile, Ramli, a 35-year-old clerk, chastised Telekom for not being fair to the public over the increase in local call rates.

They [Telekom] should gather sufficient public opinion on the matter before deciding on the increase, he said.

Kumar, 45, who is a company manager, lamented that the rates hike was to help increase Telekoms profit.

Telekom makes a lot of money every year. Why the increase in local calls? They even have a very nice building, he said, referring to the state-of-the-art Telekom tower in Kuala Lumpur.

Puan Hayati, 40, a homemaker, told malaysiakini that the increase would not have a significant effect on her since her usage was low.

But it is still expensive, she said.

Meanwhile, retiree Mrs Goh said that she would be cutting down on her talk time.

I am 60 years old. Most of the time I chat with my friends over the phone as all of us have quite a lot of time on our hands. I will have to restrict myself from talking so much on the phone from now on. I dont make any international or outstation calls so I dont benefit from those reductions, she said.

However, Len, 23, a part-time computing student, said that the increase was reasonable.

But if they are going to charge us more money, then they should also give us better services. Even now they can still be quite slow and inefficient, he said.

Teens to suffer most

Puan Isnainy, 55, said that households, especially teenagers, will definitely be affected by the rates hike.

The homemaker added that this was because young people talk so much on the phone these days.

Muhendaran Sri, a lawyer based in Kuala Lumpur, said that the average consumer would suffer from the increase.

How many of us make overseas calls on a regular basis? he asked.

He also noted that Telekom did not indicate how much revenue it would make from the changes in phone rates announced yesterday.

When asked to comment on the decrease in international charges to transform Malaysia into a hub for investment, he said that such a move was not much of an incentive for doing business here.

There has to be more reasons than just low international call rates for any company to invest, he said.