Driving a car in Malaysia should be made a luxury, not a necessity, says DAP assemblyman Liew Chin Tong – paultan.org
The government needs to find the political will to make driving private cars a luxury instead of a necessity, as is currently the case, said DAP deputy sec-gen Liew Chin Tong. In a Facebook post, the Perling assemblyman said that most Malaysians had to resort to cars as a necessity as public transport was non-existent in many parts of the country, including Kuala Lumpur, where there were very few first-mile and last-mile connections.
He urged the government to expand the coverage of buses and other modes of public transport so that at least 40-50% of the population have access to reliable public transport. This matter had become even more pressing with the rise in global oil prices.
“Each time global petrol prices hike to US$100 per barrel, there will be a panic call to reduce subsidy bills. According to finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, with the current high price of crude oil, Malaysia’s petrol subsidies alone may reach up to RM30 billion this year, almost doubling what was originally budgeted for,” he said.
While it is understandable that the government needed to look at the removal of a blanket subsidy, Liew said that simply hiking petrol prices without providing adequate public transport would mean that low-income earners would be forced to switch to motorcycles for their transportation needs, which would increase the fatality rate on roads.
“Research has shown that each time petrol prices go up in Malaysia, the number of road deaths increases. There is a direct correlation between petrol hike and the number of people switching to motorcycles, and thus the number of road deaths and accidents,” he said. He however did not provide any data to back up his claims.
He said that ensuring adequate public transport would not just help reduce traffic congestion, which former transport minister Anthony Loke said is an issue the government needs to address immediately, but would also contribute greatly to the reduction of carbon emissions, a key factor in slowing climate change.
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