DECEMBER 12, 2013
DEC 12 ― The year 2013 is coming to an end and it is vital for Malaysians to reflect on the critical events that are about to take place as the nation moves forward to the year 2014. One of those areas that is critical is the state of social economic equity in this country. The impending increase of TNB electrical tariffs to 15 per cent effective January 2014 which benefits its share holders, the increase of assessment rates, the reduction of subsidies for the common people while maintaining subsidies for well connected companies, and the Implementation of GST in the year 2015 and pay hike for Assemblymen clearly reveal the nature of political System that encourages transfers of hard-earned income from the middle class and the poor to the elites.
The Barisan National Government continues to deceive Malaysians with words like subsidy rationalisation or the government could use regressive tax like the GST for critical areas of development. If one studies the deepest motive of the Barisan Government, it has to do with having enough money in its coffers through GST in order to maintain a hand out culture of bribing Malaysians with temporary relieves that creates gratitude that helps it remain in power and at the same time make life easy for its rich cronies through the increased price of goods and services and the reduction of corporate taxes. These cronies in turn return favours to the ruling coalition through political financing.
The weakening of purchasing power of the poor and the middle class through such transfer of funds could ruin many families who are already in debt. A BR1M of RM650 is not going to solve the consistent pattern of inequality that exists in the country. It is obvious that domestic manufacturers and service providers are going to pass the high cost of electricity and subsidy reduction to consumers or they would shut down their business due to high operating costs which would create unemployment in the long run. The question that one should put forward is, the development that Malaysia aspires, is to do with empowering the bottom 40 per cent of the population or is it a development to meet the criteria of foreign rating agencies that follow the neo-liberal model of Washington consensus where the priority is to create a conducive environment for big businesses to reap maximum profits from lower taxes?
In the current social economic context where the young, middle age and the old are struggling to make ends meet due high household debt of 80 per cent of the GDP, it clear that Malaysia would go through a social upheaval in the years to come if the current social economic system and the political process that elects the same political elites to power is maintained.
To solve the above issues it is vital to get politics to address the real issues that the nation is facing. Political Parties that are fighting for justice should address the issues of decentralisation of power where local communities are given more power to reject political or economic systems that enrich elites at the expense of the poor and the marginalised. It is sad that I have not seen or heard of any politicians from the Pakatan Rakyat who has articulated a grassroots economic vision that would empower the majority in his or her constituencies. It is not enough to just talk about clean elections, fighting corruption wastage and civil rights, while being comfortable in maintaining a social economic construct that continues to entrench and enrich domestic and foreign elites. A progressive vision in politics and economics is vital to dismantle vested interest that weakens the purchasing power of the middle class and the poor.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.