JOHOR BARU, May 28 —The federal government must find its political will to make driving private cars a luxury instead of a necessity, Opposition lawmaker Liew Chin Tong said today.
The Perling assemblyman claimed that driving has become a necessity for half of Malaysia's population as there are very few first- and last-mile connections on the road, even for those living in the nation's capital Kuala Lumpur.
"Research has shown that each time petrol prices go up in Malaysia, the number of road deaths increases," he said in a statement.
He said that raising petrol pump prices without ensuring there is adequate and reliable public transport for at least 40 to 50 per cent of the population would force many low-income earners to switch to motorcycles as the cheaper alternative to cars.
"There is a direct correlation between petrol hike and the number of people switching to motorcycles, and thus the number of road deaths and accidents," he said, without providing statistics to back his argument.
He urged the government to widen its public transport, especially buses.
"Each time global petrol prices hike to US$100 per barrel, there will be a panic call to reduce subsidy bills.
"According to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, with the current high price of crude oil, Malaysia’s petrol subsidies alone may reach up to RM30 billion this year, which is almost double to what was originally budgeted for," Liew said.
He also backed DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke Siew Fook who yesterday urged the government to resolve Malaysia's traffic congestion, specifically in city centres.
Seremban MP Loke claimed traffic in Malaysia has doubled compared to pre-pandemic times in 2019 as more people return to work.
Liew who is also Johor DAP chief said cutting down on the number of private cars on the road will also help greatly in cutting down carbon emissions, effectively slowing down climate change.
"Food, traffic, public transport and flood mitigation, among others, should be what we talk about as these issues cut across racial lines and affect every Malaysian," he said.