16 May 2008

First, they demand proof of identification if you want to buy subsidised fuel meant for the Malaysians.

Malaysia on Sunday said it was considering using its chip-based national identity card to prevent visitors from Singapore and Thailand buying cheap subsidised fuel meant for locals.

Its latest plan comes as the government begins radically reviewing its fuel subsidies, expected to cost 43 billion ringgit (13.6 billion dollars) this year if oil prices hover around 120 dollars per barrel.

Malaysia heavily subsidises petrol, diesel and gas as well as 21 food items but rising global prices and controls have triggered severe shortages, as well as smuggling across its porous borders and long coastline.

"The technical features are there on the Mykad (Malaysian identification card) and can be integrated with fuel pumps so they can be used to identify the person," domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Shahrir Samad told AFP.

"We are looking to see if we can use it on the fuel pumps so that only Malaysian citizens get the subsidy," he added.

"We should not be subsidising fuel and goods for foreigners like Singaporeans and Thais. Those without MyKads can continue to buy the fuel at the pumps but at unsubsidised prices."

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Second, they have turned to bartering to secure their rice supplies. Will they barter trade with Singapore? What does Singapore have to offer?
With Malaysia struggling to shelter its people from the steep rise in the cost of rice and desperate to expand its painfully diminished “buffer” stockpile, its Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities said that his country would swap palm oil for rice with any rice-producing nation willing to make the trade.

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What next? Will they halt all vegetable and meat exports to Singapore if they can't satisfy domestic demand? What will Singapore do then?