One would think that Sarawakians would be jumping with glee when it was announced that electricity bills of less than RM20 would continue to be borne by the government.They are happy, but they are not jumping, preferring, it would appear, to reserve the celebration for something better – if it does happen, although the chances are slim.
They are urging the government to increase the free electricity rate from the current RM20 to a higher rate because, according to them, the majority of the people’s power usage bills are above RM20.
If the government can do that, then there is every reason to celebrate, they said.
Recently, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin stated that those with monthly power usage of RM20 and below per month would continue to benefit from the free electricity till the end of next year.
Seruji Tahip, 56, who is vocal about increasing the RM20 rate, said only the truly poor people have bills less than that.
“But I can tell you for sure there are many poor people who use up electricity worth more than that,” Seruji said when asked to comment on the government’s decision to extend the period of free electricity to end of 2010.
Seruji’s opinion is supported by entrepreneur Norshiah Rajow, 39, who said that bills below RM20 are not a burden to the people, not even the poor.
“What can be burdening are bills more than RM20!” Norshiah said.
“Below RM20 ruling is not a good step because only a few would benefit as the use of refrigerators, lamps and television alone runs bills well beyond RM20,” Norshiah said.
Meanwhile, Leslee Ronjig, 35, from Kampung Punau of Jalan Puncak Borneo said extending the ruling is a welcomed step which should be applauded.
Leslee said it has made him more determined to save on electricity usage and as a result he has enjoyed several exemptions already.
He, however, admits that he has to forego a lot of things to be able to enjoy the exemption. He also said he would certainly welcome a higher exemption rate so that he could watch the TV or be at the computer longer.
Alsie Sia, 27, a teacher also said the ruling has been of great relief to many poor people and any length of extension will certainly bring more relief. She said saving on electricity usage will hopefully contribute to slowing down the global warming rate.
She, however, admitted that even how much she tries to save on electricity usage she is still burning a big hole in her pocket paying for her power bill.
Apparently, she forgets that it would seem that only the poor are expected to help slow down global warming while the well to do continue to do what they can pay for at the expense of the environment.
Like Alsie, Edna Dungi, 35, is also happy with the extension decision, saying: “Even though we are a developing nation, there are still many people who are poor and need help from the government. Such incentive will definitely make the people happy.”
The extension will benefit up to RM1.5 million consumers or house owners after the government agreed to allocate about RM11.9 million per month to support the ruling.