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Malaysia: Foreigners Banned from Getting Cheap Gas

(June 2, 2008) Malaysian Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Abdul Samad announced on May 26, 2008, that operators of foreign-registered vehicles will be forbidden to buy any gasoline in border areas of Malaysia. Subsidies have kept prices for both gasoline and diesel fuel substantially lower in Malaysia than in neighboring Singapore and Thailand, and foreigners had already been subjected to a 20-liter limit. The Minister said the prohibition was “a stern act by the government to reduce the leak in subsidy” and that the subsidy “should actually be enjoyed by the lower-income group in the country,” rather than by foreigners. He also stated that the policy was temporary, designed to be in place “until we come up with better management of our subsidy system.” Those found breaking the rule will be subject to fines and may be imprisoned for up to three years. The move is not universally popular in Malaysia, as some fear it will adversely impact the tourist trade. (Julia Zappei, Malaysia to Ban Foreigners from Filling Up on Subsidized Gasoline Near Borders, AP, May 27, 2008 (last visited May 30, 2008.)