Soon, you’d need to present your IC to purchase fuel in Malaysia – that’s only if you are Malaysian and you want to enjoy subsidies. This, in theory, should clamp down on all purchases of petrol by visitors to the country, in particular Singaporeans and Thai; because they are apparently sucking up all the fuel that’s reserved for Malaysians only.

So what does this tell us? That, if you are driving up to Malaysia, you are to have Malaysian friends in the car (suddenly, Hillary has become my best friend). Either that, or you pick up really good Malay – with their accent, to try to pass off as a Malaysian. Of course, there’s always the alternative of refuelling at more rural areas where business is not so brisk. Here, economics have to play a big part.

Soon, KFC, McDonald’s, Mary Brown will soon cost more if customers don’t produce their ICs upon purchase. Ditto for cooking oil, tissue paper, toilet paper, salt and sugar. Soon, stores by the road side will all be fitted with Metropolitan Area Network devices connected to a scanner or card reader to make sure that customers are not getting away 20 sen cheaper from that RM$1.20 nasi lemak.

KUALA LUMPUR – MALAYSIA is mulling over steps to bar visitors from Singapore and Thailand from topping up their tanks with subsidised fuel at petrol stations nationwide.

Subsidised fuel in the future will likely be available only to Malaysians carrying their microchip-based national identity cards known as the MyKad, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Samad.

Singaporeans and Thais can still top up their tanks at the same stations, but they will have to pay the full market rate, he said.

‘The technical features are there on the MyKad and can be integrated with fuel pumps so they can be used to identify the person,’ he told news agency Agence France-Presse yesterday.

‘We are looking to see if we can use it on the fuel pumps so that only Malaysian citizens get the subsidy,’ he added.

Penalties would likely be introduced to punish non-Malaysians who borrowed the IC of their friends to refuel, he said.

The government spent RM35 billion (S$15 billion) on fuel subsidies last year, an amount that could rise to RM43 billion this year. It has sought to gradually reduce fuel subsidies amid soaring global oil prices.

But to remove subsidies entirely would be unpopular as many Malaysians rely on cars instead of the unreliable public transport.

‘We should not be subsidising fuel and goods for foreigners like Singaporeans and Thais. Those without MyKad can continue to buy the fuel at the pumps but at unsubsidised prices,’ he said.

Malaysia subsidises petrol, diesel and gas as well as 21 food items, but the controls have triggered smuggling across its long border and coastline.

Petrol is sold at RM1.92 per litre (82 Singapore cents) at the pump. Without the subsidies it could jump to between RM2.48 and RM2.93.

Last month, Datuk Shahrir said subsidies on diesel would be removed, with subsidised diesel given directly to those entitled to them, such as schoolbus owners and fishermen.

Diesel is sold at stations for RM1.58 a litre. Unsubsidised diesel would cost more than RM2 a litre.

Singapore vehicles are subject to the three-quarter tank rule when crossing into Malaysia, which limits their refuelling capacity.

Datuk Shahrir told The Straits Times that the ministry was also looking at introducing a new card for Malaysians which could be used to purchase petrol.

‘It could be an identification tool tied to the car you use,’ he said. The card would identify its holder as well as the registration of the vehicle, preventing it from being used by others to top up their tanks.

The minister hopes to have the system in place by the year-end at all fuel stations in Malaysia.

The ban would likely not differentiate between Singaporeans making short trips to Malaysia and those on a longer stay, he added. ‘It’s the same when you go to Indonesia or Europe, you have to adjust to their system,’ he said.

hazlinh@sph.com.sg

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM AFP

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 5th May 2008



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