By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — PKR accused Khairy Jamaluddin today of withdrawing his support for subsidy cuts only because his father-in-law Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was no longer prime minister.
Secretary general Saifuddin Nasution said that the Umno Youth chief was “acting like the rakyat’s hero” with his recent call to maintain subsidies ahead of a general election expected later this year.
“Why, when his father-in-law was prime minister, did Khairy support the withdrawal of subsidies and raising prices?
“Now that Datuk Seri Najib Razak is prime minister, Khairy has to borrow Pakatan Rakyat’s stand against inflation and the subsidy cuts,” the Machang MP said in a statement today.
Putrajaya has signalled that it will slash subsidies that will otherwise double to RM21 billion, despite surging inflation.
But Khairy has said the Najib administration should delay subsidy cuts until it has “put a razor” to its own expenditure, stating that it should govern more efficiently instead.
Saifuddin said the Hansard showed that the Rembau MP told Parliament on June 23, 2008 that “even though it is bitter and invites negative reaction from the public, the government’s restructuring of subsidies is an economic necessity that cannot be avoided.”
Opposition parties including PKR have attacked the government’s plan to slash subsidies, saying that it burdens the public while Barisan Nasional (BN) “cronies” were still being shielded from inflation that hit a two-year high in March.
The consumer price index rose by three per cent in March with the prices of non-alcoholic foodstuff surging by 4.7 per cent.
Analysts and politicians believe economic woes will be the biggest problem for the ruling coalition if the vote is called.
According to a Bloomberg report last month, surging fuel prices and unhappiness over the implementation of race-based policies contributed to the ruling coalition losing control of five of 13 states to Pakatan Rakyat in Election 2008, where it also ceded a record 82 out of 222 seats in Parliament.