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Parliament to discuss fishermen’s diesel protest

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat allowed an emergency motion filed by Chong Chien Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) to discuss fishermen’s protest against diesel prices. Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar allowed the emergency motion filed under Section 18(1) of the Standing Orders, saying the matter was specific, of public interest and with urgency.

One hour has been slotted to debate the emergency motion starting at 4.30pm Thursday and the Government would reply. Chong, in his emergency motion, said that the strike was caused by government policies that did not consider the welfare of fishermen seriously.

“Since June, the price of diesel supplied to fishermen has gone up from RM1 to RM1.43 per litre. Although the Government has said it will reduce it to RM1.30 per litre, it is not enough.”

Chong added that the high fuel cost was preventing fishermen from going out to sea and that the policy of allowing foreign vessels to fish in Malaysian waters was making it even harder for local fishermen to survive.

“In Sarawak, the Government’s ban on foreign workers for Class A and Class B fishing boats is also affecting their operations.”

Chong said the strike would eventually become more serious and adversely affect fishmongers, the public and the country.

More than 45,000 fishermen from seven states went on strike last Friday in an attempt to get the Government to bring down the price of diesel to RM1 per litre.

However, after a dialogue with Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai as well as Housing and Local Government Minister Ong Ka Chuan on Wednesday, fishermen from Selangor and southern Perak said they would go back to the sea Thursday.

The two MCA leaders had promised to bring up their requests for lower prices to the Government.

At the Parliament lobby on Wednesday however, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said the Government could not meet their requests because it would affect other sectors.

“The padi farmers and public transport operators would start asking for a reduction if the price is reduced for fishermen,” he said.

The emergency motion filed by Chong on Thursday was only the third allowed out of more than 60 filed since April 28, the day Parliament convened after the March 8 election.

The first one was filed by Salahuddin Ayob (PAS-Kubang Kerian) on the shortage of rice supply on May 2, the second one by Mohd Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) on the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide on Dec 10.

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