3 months for M’sia cabbies to get fuel cards

M'sian PM announced that 67,000 free fuel cards will be given to taxi drivers

KUALA LUMPUR• Malaysian authorities said yesterday that taxi drivers have three months to collect 67,000 free RM800 (S$270) fuel cards, following a mad rush at counters set up last Friday that injured 30 drivers.

The programme will cost the government RM53.6 million, and is seen as a part of gifts and sweeteners being rolled out by politicians ahead of the looming general election.

The Land Public Transport Commission (Spad), which oversees Malaysia's taxi drivers, said the fuel cards are available at counters all over Peninsular Malaysia.

Spad denied rumours that the cards could be utilised only after the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is returned to power at the May 9 elections.

"The card will be activated once it has been collected by the taxi driver, and they are allocated to spend up to RM800 for petrol and... natural gas vehicles at all Petronas stations nationwide," the commission said in a statement.

The fuel cards were announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak last Friday, and were among goodies being dished out, or promised, by both BN leaders and opposition parties in the last few weeks.

With cost of living cited by politicians and analysts as the main concern, both BN and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition pact are taking no chances to show voters that they care.

Mr Najib had said of the cards: "I believe that with this card, your daily cost of operation will be lowered and this will help raise your daily income."

In Selangor, Menteri Besar Azmin Ali yesterday doled out cash allocations, laptops and iPads to his constituents in the Bukit Antarabangsa state seat and Gombak parliamentary wards.

He had four such events, Malaysiakini news website reported, but he denied that the handouts were linked to the general election, saying these were part of regular aid dished out by the PH state government.

Mr Najib had recently promised Penang motorcyclists that he will remove road tolls for all motorcycle riders at the two bridges linking the island to mainland Penang should BN take over the state.

In response, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said all vehicles users won't have to pay tolls if PH grabs federal power.

PH has promised to do away with tolled roads in phases, if it comes to power.

Mr Najib has also promised to raise its maximum annual BR1M cash handout - paid to seven million recipients - to RM2,000 from RM1,200 now.

PH, which had months earlier said it would scrap BR1M, has now said it will retain this cash handout. - THE STRAITS TIMES