The government is misleading us about the hike in petrol prices and RON rating

By Dr. Adrian Wong

I'm quite fed up with The Star. They already have a sordid reputation of spinning cover for the government, and they still continue to do so even after getting lambasted online time and time again. They are really HOPELESS.

Recently, they posted a piece on the increase (yet another) in petrol price as the government discontinued RON92 petrol and replaced it with RON95. The government made use of the switch to increase the price of RON95 by 5 cents and jacked the price of RON97 all the way to RM 2.05 per liter, which is 25 cents (13.9%) higher.

This was what the Star wrote :


How will you benefit from the new RON95 petrol?

PETALING JAYA: RON95 was the buzz at neighbourhood petrol stations as consumers had to quickly grasp the differences between the RON92 (which is discontinued) and RON97 (which has been upgraded) and the new, more environment friendly oil.

The first thing they want to know is how they will benefit from this change to RON95 which retails at RM1.80 per litre.

“About 90% of motorists using RON97 (which has been upgraded to a premium product and sold at a higher price of RM2.05 per lire) can now switch to RON95,” said Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumer Affairs Ministry secretary-general Datuk Zain Mohd Dom.

“The price of RM1.80 for RON95 will be capped at this level for the rest of the year,’’ Zain told StarBiz, referring to a statement earlier by Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. “It moves within an active price range, depending on the price trend of oil gauged over a one-month period.’’

All this while, consumers have been using RON97 which is too powerful for cars today. “Take a look at car manuals and one will often find that RON95 is recommended,’’ said Zain, adding that RON97 had stronger ingredients that were more suitable for higher powered cars.

RON (research octane number) measures the octane quality of fuel. It refers to the fuel’s ability to resist premature and uncontrolled combustion that occurs when fuel pre-ignites before ignition by the spark plug.

The newly-introduced RON95 fuel is priced at RM1.80, five sen higher than that of RON92, which is leaded petrol. Concurrently, RON97 has been upgraded as a premium product and its price has gone up to RM2.05 from RM1.80.

Ismail had said at a press conference on Tuesday although the price of RON95 was higher, the Government was still subsidising 33.81 sen per litre, which comes up to about RM304mil monthly.

He said the upward revision of the prices was necessary as the global crude oil price had doubled since the announcement by former minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad in March that RON95 would be sold at RM1.75.

Currently, the Government is subsidising 42.72 sen per litre for RON97.

While consumers who were using RON92 are required to pay more when they upgrade to RON95, those using RON97 and are able to downgrade to RON95 will save 25 sen per litre.

According to car manufacturers, as long as the fuel used is not below the minimum RON requirement (RON91), it would be appropriate for any vehicle.

Given that 90% of all cars can use the newly-launched RON95, this should provide savings for most consumers. All Perodua and Proton cars are compatible with RON95.

“What you need to do is find out whether your car can run on RON95 or not. This information should be available in your car manual or on a sticker near your fuel flap,” an industry player

A BMW Malaysia spokesman said there were no problems with RON95, in general, for BMW models although there was no technical data on performance.

Performance cars such as Suzuki Swift Sport, Honda Civic Type R, Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Range Rover and Skoda 200FSI are incompatible with RON95.

Owners of cars that are incompatible with RON95 will have to fork out an extra RM10 for every 40 litres of RON97.

Shell Malaysia Trading Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Mohzani Wahab said the company remained confident that its revenue would increase this year, despite the anticipated lower sales of Shell Super 97 (RON97) due to the 25 sen price difference from the price of RON95.

Mohzani said the RON95 had received encouraging response from motorists so far.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Petronas Dagangan Bhd expected its RON95 fuel to register 95% sales. The company started selling RON95 in May and 65% of its consumers had opted for RON95 against RON92. said.

This isn't the first time the government has attempted to delude the public about RON rating. Neither is this the first time The Star has done their bit to spin the story for the government and pass fallacy for fact. Greatly displeased, I wrote to the editors of The Star :


I’m writing in reference to the piece “How will you benefit from the new RON95 petrol?” by Leong Hung Yee.

I’m no motorhead but this is a misleading piece of spin. Here are the reasons why :

1. RON97 petrol, before and now, is the same product. It was not “upgraded” as the writer mentioned.
2. The government had earlier promised that the price for petrol will remain until the end of the year. The statement that RON95 will be capped at RM 1.80 is nothing more than an attempt to cover up the price hike. Then again, he’s a politician.
3. RON number does not measure the octane “quality” of the fuel. The octane rating is a measure of the RESISTANCE of petrol to premature detonation. It has nothing to do with fuel quality. The word “quality” should have never been mentioned, unless it was inserted intentionally to mislead the reader.
4. RON97 has “stronger” ingredients? A higher octane rating merely means the fuel is more resistant to premature detonation. It doesn’t mean the fuel is stronger or has stronger ingredients.
5. RON92 is NOT leaded petrol! Leaded petrol has been discontinued in Malaysia for years. RON92 is simply unleaded petrol with a Research Octane Number of 92!

Seriously, has the journalistic and editorial quality at The Star dropped so low that neither the journalist or the editor bothered to do a little fact-checking before publishing the piece?

If you do print a correction, please do inform the public that using petrol with a higher RON rating that your car’s engine supports is a waste of money. Petrol with a higher RON rating will NOT deliver better performance. If your car supports RON 91, then RON 91 is good enough.

I e-mailed that to them at 2:23 PM on Thursday, September 3rd. No response until today. No surprise.

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