May 30, 2010

Tun Mahathir agrees subsidy must go but says it must be done gradually

JOHOR BARU: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad fully supports the Government's plan to reduce subsidy but feels it should be introduced gradually while efforts must be made to increase the income of the 'rakyat' to lessen the impact of the resulting price hike.

The former prime minister said people must accept the fact that prices of commodities such as oil were going up.

"The price of oil during my time was USD30 (RM98) per barrel while now it is USD80 (RM263) and it has even reached USD140 (RM460) at one time.

"I feel that it is more realistic if the price of oil is increased gradually until it reflects the market price as the Government has manage to maintain the price without any significant increase all these years," he told pressmen after launching the MAYC veteran card here Saturday.

Dr Mahahtir said it was important not to raise the price drastically to prevent from the people feeling the pinch. "The subsidy should be reduced gradually so that the pain is not too strong.

"The government must ensure the people's income is increased as well," he said.

He said Malaysia was considered quite fortunate as prices of items and commodities were relatively cheap compared to other countries adding that even the price of oil in Bangladesh was more expensive.

Asked whether his visit to the new Johor state new administrative centre in Kota Iskandar, located within Iskandar Malaysia on Saturday, signified his support for the economic region, Dr Mahathir said he agreed with the concept of having a special area developed for economic purposes.

"However, I questioned whether it will bring benefit to Malaysia.

"If it can be proven that it can bring benefit to Malaysia, then I will support," he said.

Dr Mahathir was one of the biggest critics of the project when it was launched during his immediate successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's administration.

When asked on whether he still wished for the crooked bridge linking Johor Baru and Singapore to be built, Dr Mahathir said yes but declined to comment further.

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