KUALA LUMPUR, August 24, 2008 (AFP) – Malaysian premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said a recent move to cut petrol prices by 5.6 percent to 2.55 ringgit (0.76 dollars) a litre was not politically motivated, according to a report Sunday.
The government’s announcement on Friday comes ahead of a crucial by-election this Tuesday contested by opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim in the northern Penang state.
Anwar has promised to cut fuel prices substantially if he is returned to parliament after a decade-long absence and wrests power from the ruling coalition.
“Never mind what people say. If I want to change the policy because I think I have to, I will change it,” Abdullah was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper.
“I don’t care what the opposition says. I will do it. That’s me,” he added.
The government hiked petrol prices 41 percent in June to rein in the spiralling cost of energy subsidies but the decision sparked angry street protests and triggered calls for him to quit, compounding his woes after disastrous results in March elections.
The government later said it would review fuel prices periodically from September, with the new price to be fixed on the first day of every month.