Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Serendah on Tuesday, 25th June 1974 at 9 p.m.
DAP condemn another diesel price increase – Government surrendering to the pressure of the multi-national oil companies
On my way to this rally, I heard about the news that the government has approved a further diesel price increase e of eight cents a gallon, bringing the retail price to $1 a gallon.
This is indeed shocking. For the past weeks and months, the international oil companies, intent on raising the price of diesel to achieve record-breaking profits, created artificial diesel to achieve record-breaking profits, created artificial diesel shortage in the market. The government was held to ransom, and it has now again surrendered to the pressure of the international oil companies and raised further the price of diesel.
It was only last week that a Ministry of Primary Industries spokesmen told the local press that there would definitely be no oil price increase in the next three months. Hardly a week has passed, and such a government assurance has been broken.
This shows how little is the worth of government assurances, unless it is in black and white!
What makes the diesel price increase all the more deplorable is that this is the third time in less than seven months that the government has approved oil prices increases – the first time in December last year, and the second time in may this year.
Every time the government approved oil price increases, we are told that the oil prices were considered in the totality, and not for individual oil products, so as to ensure that the better-off will pay more while the lower economic groups, like those who depend on diesel-driven vehicles, would not have to bear too much of a burden.
There is no reason or justification, therefore for the present diesel price increase.
The fact that the recent diesel shortage is artificial and the work of the international oil companies can be seen from the assurance given by the international oil companies that there are adequate supplies of diesel after the diesel price increase.
How is it before the diesel price increase, there is country-wide diesel scarcity, and immediately after the price increase, there are adequate diesel supplies in the refineries and depots of the international oil companies? How can a government, which put the interest of the people of Malaysia before anything else, allow the foreign oil companies to get away with such irresponsible conduct? How can the Malaysian government allow itself to be blackmailed into raising the price of diesel by such manipulation of supplies by the oil companies?
It is all the more saddening that the diesel price increase should come in the midst of the Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference, for the people had expected the government understanding with the Arab-oil producing countries and other African oil-producing countries like Libya to break the monopoly of the international oil companies in the Malaysian oil market, permitting them to create oil shortages to force up oil prices.
Apparently, despite the fact that the Foreign Ministers and the leaders of the world’s oil-producing countries had congregated in Kuala Lumpur, nothing was done to make Malaysia less dependent on the American and European-based international oil companies.
The DAP condemns the fresh round of diesel price increases because:
1. the diesel price increase will lead to a further inflationary spiral in the price of other items, like transport costs, price of goods, and will make the poor even poorer instead of lessening their hardships; and will make life for fishermen quite impossible.
2. The government has surrendered to the blackmail and pressures of the international oil companies, instead of taking firm actions to order the oil companies to act as responsible corporate citizens by being content with less profits while helping to reduce the inflationary spiral in the country;
3. The complete failure of the Alliance and National Front government to evolve a national petroleum policy aimed to benefitting the masses of people by ensuring cheap fuel and energy, especially as Malaysia produces more oil than we consume. (Malaysia produces more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day, while we consume only 85,000 a day).
The DAP calls on the Cabinet and the Prime Minister Tun Razak to reconsider its decision to permit another eight-cent increase in diesel price.
The DAP wants the eight-cent price increase to be withdraw, and if the government is too weak to compel eight cents, then the government should absorb the eight cents by reducing the duty on diesel by eight cents. So that the poor who depend on buses, bus sekolahs for transport, and fishermen would not suffer, and so that there would be no chain reaction for a new round of price increases for goods on grounds of increased transportation costs.
The DAP want the international oil companies to be nationalised, and nationalised now, for it is clearly incompatible with Malaysian nationalistic interests to allow our economic life to be manipulated by foreigners on such a sensitive issue as energy and fuel. – which is the lifeblood of any economy.