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Friday, January 10, 2014

Malaysian Politics 2014: Year of street protests, warns Tumpat MP

Published: Friday January 10, 2014 MYT 8:59:00 AM 
Updated: Friday January 10, 2014 MYT 9:15:33 AM
Tumpat MP Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar
Malaysian Politics 2014

PETALING JAYA: More people will take their grudges to the streets, said Tumpat MP Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar.

He warned that 2014 would not be a good year for ordinary folks, as they will need to tighten their belts to make ends meet due to the recent price hikes.

"There will be more demonstrations and possibly new forms of protests at all levels of society," said Kamaruddin, who is a PAS central working committee member.

He said Barisan Nasional would come under "heavy pressure" not only from political parties but also from non-governmental organisations over issues linked to the increasing costs of living and that the ruling coalition's popularity will drop.

Kamaruddin believed that more people, especially the youth, would play a significant role in keeping the Government in check, as was seen in the thousands of youths who joined the Turun protest at Dataran Merdeka on Dec 31.

The 15% increase in the electricity tariff and impending toll hike, and probably more cuts to fuel subsidies, have raised the concerns of all Malaysians.

Some claimed that the implementation of the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST), expected early next year, would worsen the situation.

Although there will be attempts by the Government to cushion the impact, Kamaruddin is not convinced that it will be effective.

"There will be attempts to provide solutions but they won't be enough to satisfy the rakyat, if corruption and the awarding of contracts via negotiations are not tackled," he said.

He cast doubt on the Government's attempt to reduce the fiscal deficit despite the price hikes, and expects the it to change strategies halfway through 2014 in order to be popular.

"But the deficit may continue as in previous years," he said.

In Budget 2014, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said that the Government was on track to reducing its fiscal deficit from 4.5% of the GDP in 2012 to 4% in 2013, and 3.5% this year.

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