Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Standardize prices of all goods in Nation, urges Tham


Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad should make it a top ‘national agenda’ to standardize the prices of all goods throughout the country, and not just prices of subsidised goods, said former Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Tham Nyip Shen. “While I commend Datuk Shahrir’s swift move of having convinced the Federal Government to standardize the prices of subsidised goods throughout the country, which is in fact long overdue, I would urge him to standardize prices of all the other goods ultimately. “This is to be fair to Malaysians living in Sabah and Sarawak who have been paying more for most of the goods sold in the two States, which is absolutely unfair to them in the context of ‘one nation’ and, coupled with the fact that like their Peninsular Malaysia counterparts, they too are paying the same rate of Income Tax, no rebate at all,” argued Tham who is a consistent critic of price discrepancies between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak. Tham was responding to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister’s recent, statement that the Federal Government would standardise the prices of subsidised goods throughout the country next month. “For once, someone at the Federal Government level is thinking about Malaysia as one country. Previously, when this issue about standardising goods prices was raised, it fell on deaf ears, despite the fact the Ministry was once headed by a Sabahan. “Hence, if Datuk Shahrir could achieve this (standardizing prices of all goods), the people of Sabah and Sarawak would really appreciate him,” he said. He reiterated that it is not impossible to realize such a move provided there is a strong political will. He cited case of United States as a good example of a nation with standard pricing for all goods, despite its sheer size that is about 28 times larger than the size of Malaysia. Tham went on to note that the higher prices of goods in Sabah had inevitably and unfairly contributed to a high cost of living and a higher cost of doing business in the State, as compared to the other states. In addition, almost all the leading Government Departments and Agencies are based in Kuala Lumpur especially. This thus often compelled Sabahans and Sarawakians to travel to Kuala Lumpur to do business and to attend meetings, according to him. “So far, MPs’ airfares are subsidised but what about the ordinary citizens? Until AirAsia came into the picture, there was no chance for the people of Sabah and Sarawak to travel to Kuala Lumpur on a cheap airfare,” he said.