RM3.35 diesel: And so begins Malaysia’s perilous, make or break journey of a thousand miles

I HAVE always been supportive of the targeted subsidy programme despite the fact that I have little to no faith in the Madani government.

I truly believe that Malaysia will continue to decline and deteriorate until we change our economic model from one that is exploitation based to one that is value generating.

I believe that every ailment we see in the country – from corruption, perennial racial and religious tension, being stuck in the middle-income trap, brain drain, high national debt, stagnant wages and alarmingly high number of foreign workers – is at its root caused by the fact that Malaysia’s economic model is based on exploitation.

In my estimate, to wean ourselves of our addiction to the exploitation based economic model and restructure ourselves as a true, real and high value generating economy, the success of the targeted subsidy scheme is going to be a key initial factor.

By the time this article comes out, the first of the targeted subsidy schemes which will see the price of diesel at the pump rise from RM 2.15/litre to RM 3.35/litre would have started.

In search of legacy

Reportedly, 30,000 eligible diesel vehicle owners will be getting RM200 in subsidy to offset the rise in the price of diesel.

If and only if the restructuring of the diesel subsidy programme succeeds will the restructuring of other subsidies – like petrol, rice or sugar – roll out.

Therefore, the restructuring of the diesel subsidy programme effective today (June 10) is going to be akin to the first step in the proverbial thousand-mile journey that our country is going to undertake in order to survive the present and build a better country for ourselves in the future.

If the subsidy restructuring program succeeds, I daresay that Anwar Ibrahim might indeed be able to call himself as Bapa Reformasi Malaysia while PKR and Pakatan Harapan (PH)will be able to finally have a legacy that will be able to rival that of UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN).

No matter what their shortcomings, nobody can take away the fact that UMNO and BN were the parties that won the independence for Malaysia.

Until PKR and PH win a legacy for themselves, they can never be sure of their place in Malaysian politics.

This subsidy rationalisation scheme offers a great opportunity to Anwar and the Madani government. No matter how badly they have disappointed the country so far, if they succeed in rolling out this scheme, not only will most if not all of their faults be forgiven but they would also have succeeded in securing an indelible legacy for themselves.

Fault line

My problem with the entire subsidy restructuring programme, however, lies in the fact that I have little to no faith in Anwar or the Madani government.

The fact that it is Anwar and the Madani government that is captaining the ship called Malaysia in this pivotal thousand-mile journey is making me have all sorts of dark foreboding about this entire endeavour.

This subsidy restructuring programme is a momentous affair with great significance, many difficulties, powerful opponents and immense danger.

If it fails and causes the economy to seize up or be brought down by high inflation, everything from racial and religious strife to the break-up of the federation might occur.

Considering the great significance and difficulties inherent in the endeavour, my heart cannot but sink when I look at Anwar and his coterie of merry men and women.

Looking at them, I can’t help but ask myself, can someone who fails to do something simple succeed at doing something big?

Can those who fail to lift 10kg be expected to lift 100kg? Between succeeding modestly and failing greatly, are these the sort of people who will choose modesty rather than greatness?

Looking at the antics of Anwar and Madani government for the past one-and-half-years, I must say that I am afraid to answer these questions.

But as the saying goes “never under-estimate those who over-estimate themselves.”

If there is one thing you can say about Anwar and the Madani government with a great deal of confidence, it is that it certainly doesn’t lack people who over-estimate themselves.

Considering that, I do certainly hope that in the near future, I will be able to happily admit that I have been absolutely wrong and instead proclaim that Anwar and the Madani government has certainly defied the odds and exceeded expectations.

May fortune and fate look upon us all with favour. – June 10, 2024


Nehru Sathiamoorthy is a roving tutor who loves politics, philosophy and psychology.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main image credit: Finance Ministry

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