Subsidy cuts will slash votes for BN

By Ken Vin Lek, Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The subsidy cuts which came into effect at the stroke of midnight could court serious political implications for Barisan Nasional, warned academic Prof James Chin.

“This is a brave move on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s part as this is going to have an effect on BN’s vote base regardless of whether the general election is held this year or in the near future.

“There will definitely be political implications as people do not like price hikes,” said the head of Monash University’s Arts Faculty.

However, Chin said the government had little choice due to the country’s huge deficit.

“The crisis in Greece really spooked international markets and countries which do not balance their sheets will be tremendously affected,” he added.

Chin attributed the lack of adverse public reaction to the government’s “clever” planning leading up to the subsidy cuts such as the Performance Management Unit (Pemandu) organising labs and initiatives to gather public feedback.

“The middle class has accepted the fact that the government will reduce subsidies sooner or later. The problem is the low-income earners. They are the voiceless ones who will be hurt most.

“It is going to affect the average poor household budget by about RM100 to RM150 a year and this is not a small figure,” he added.

The cuts have raised the prices of sugar, petroleum, diesel and natural gas.

Anwar calls it a heartless move

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim slammed the government for not having the people’s interest at heart.

He was also upset that the subsidy cuts, which came just ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, were done on the sly, which he claimed proved that Najib had no respect for the Dewan Rakyat.

“The increase in sugar price will impact the prices of food and the crippling effect from the rise in petrol, diesel and sugar will put immense pressure on those earning below RM2,000 a month

“The people should not be affected by the excuse of wanting to reduce the country’s deficit and using such savings to bear the cost of excessive expenditure made by the government.