The past couple of weeks have had a very strong impact on Malaysians, as the price of oil shot up to record levels and the govt. was forced to do the inevitable i.e raising the price of petrol & diesel by around 40%. I put off adding new posts as I watched how people responded to this dramatic change in their lives. The day the price hike was announced I witnessed how people clogged up petrol stations to fill up their tanks before the midnight deadline when petrol became RM2.70 per litre. I suppose people were expecting it as everyone was already aware of the high price of oil per barrel overseas. Luckily, Malaysians responded calmly (if not grudgingly) and there were no mass waves of riots or other civil disturbances.
We are aware of course that some suspected Opposition-organised demonstrators did go to the streets a few days ago (they conveniently ended their march at the PAS HQ near Jalan Raja Laut). But by and large Malaysians displayed calmness & a lot of common sense. That is not to say that people are not concerned. They are. The increase in goods and services due to the increase of petrol prices is to be expected.
Right now, the best that we can hope for is that for oil prices to be stabilised and that inflation can be kept to the minimum. As difficult as it may be, changes in lifestyle and personal expenditure will hopefully make Malaysians appreciate what they do have & keep wastage to a low level.
There is no simple solution, whatever opposition leaders like Dato' Seri Anwar like to tell everyone. If it is so simple, one will expect Pakatan-held states to themselves offer to make up the difference in price increase from the previous RM1.92 per litre, in the form of cash rebates every time someone fills up for gas in Perak, Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Kelantan. That will not happen soon and it is best that all Malaysians keep a level view of this global phenomenon of rising oil prices.
As for Puteri UMNO, all that we can do is to come to the realisation that we have to change how we live our lives, with emphasis on sustainable development of resources, minimising unnecessary waste & spending, and above all, finding a better way to raise income and wealth so that any hike in prices can be overcome. Hopefully, we can get these storm clouds behind us as soon as possible.