KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 – The Opposition's call for fuel subsidies to be reinstated would encourage the disproportionate use of private vehicles at the expense of the environment, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The Barisan Nasional chairman consequently dismissed Pakatan Harapan's campaign pledge as populist and contrary to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and combat the effects of climate change.
“They make empty promises like returning oil subsidies… that would only put more cars on the road and increase the carbon footprint,” Najib said in his keynote address of the International Kuala Lumpur Youth Discourse 2017 here.
Malaysia is a signatory of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and adopted the 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to have participating nations incorporate greenhouse gas emission reduction policies in their national agenda.
Najib said his administration has demonstrated its commitment to helping the world mitigate climate change.
“We don't put political interest ahead of public interest,” he said.
Pakatan Harapan renewed its push for fuel subsidies after pump prices rose steadily since October.
Economists have criticised the idea as impractical. Some have echoed the prime minister’s view that resources should be spent on improving public transport use instead.
The Najib administration is estimated to have earmarked close RM100 billion to improve public transport.
Najib said the government has also begun working on producing energy from non-fossil fuel sources under the 9th Malaysia Plan 2006-2010.
He said the 2006 National Biofuel Policy reflected that commitment.
Under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015), Najib said the government spent RM51 billion to enhance resilience against climate change.
“And that includes addressing flood risks, water security, food security, protecting coastlines and health,” he said.
The commitment to environmental protection continued under the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) with policies focusing on green growth to support sustainability and resilience, the BN chairman added.
“The measures include strengthening the enabling environment for green growth, the adoption of sustainable consumption and production practices, conserving natural resources, and building resilience against climate change and natural disasters,” he said.