Thousands of car owners lined up at every petrol station in Bintulu last night to fill their tanks before the petrol pump price increases to RM2.70 (petrol) and to RM2.58 (diesel). Panic buying was sighted at practically all stations in Bintulu – the oil town of Sarawak. By 7pm, it was bumper to bumper at main commercial areas, such as Medan Jaya and ParkCity commercial center.

Motorist busy filling up their tanks few hours before the midnight deadline.

My wife and I took to a ride to five of the ten petrol stations in town, just to see how the people were reacting to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s announcement at 5pm yesterday. At one petrol station in Tanjung Batu, I talked to car owners about 2 hour before the 12 midnight deadline.

Mr Andrew “we are net producer but still we pay higher prices than anywhere else”.

“Even countries like Taiwan didn’t raise the price as high as we did, they are not oil producer” said Andrew a local businessman.

Although agree the increase is unavoidable, Mr Andrew said it should have been done in a gradual manner so people are ready.

Mr Andrew described the increment as “too high” and “too fast”. He also puzzled “why two days ago the government said they will increase the price in August, but later they say it is today (Wednesday),”

Thousand of motorists in Bintulu were rushing to petrol stations around the town to fill up their tanks before the midnight deadline yesterday.

The queues were long and non-stop, just as anywhere else around the country last night. There could be thousands of ringgit worth of petrol burning unproductively as the car owners waited in long line of queue to fill up their tanks.

A 78 sen raise for petrol price means almost a 41 per cent increase. As for diesel, the jump was almost 65 per cent. Since Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi took over in 2004 the diesel price had increased a whopping 231 percent and petrol as much 97.1 percent. That’s perhaps explained why Abdullah hope people will not demonstrate over the price hike.

Extra storage. Some motorists brought ‘gallons’ to for extra storage.

Generally, many motorist in Bintulu were emotional and vocal. They just wouldn’t want to listen to the Government’s standard response pertaining to the pump price. It was quite apparent to me that they were upset, angry and disappointed.

They want to know how the government plan to help the poor to lighten their burden amid the rising cost of living?