The Sunday Star today suggested today that most Malaysians oppose the implementation of GST because they lacked understanding of it (The Good, the bad, and the ugly of tax, Sunday Star, May 4, 2014). MCA even said that the protesters at the recent anti-GST rally do not know what they were protesting about (Protestors clueless about GST, Malaysiakini, May 4, 2014).
Yes, it is the usual, tired line you would expect a government with little credibility and trustworthiness to say, when justifying an additional burden on the people in order to cover its own excesses and extravagance. It’s the old, “Rakyat are ignorant, the government knows all, so let us tell you what is best for you” mantra.
What we don’t understand is how is it that after years of excessive expenditure reported by the Auditor-General; massive overspending in projects by the billions; huge bail-outs of cronies with public funds; and evidence of corruption in the award of tenders and grants; hence causing our public finances to be severely strained, can the government still keep a straight face and expect the people to trust it with more of their hard-earned money?
This is the government that asked the rakyat to tighten its belt to prepare for the GST implementation, while it approves a private jet for the use of someone who is not even a member of the government. First class is not good enough, it seems.
This is the government that expects the people to keep their mouth shut instead of asking how their money is spent. Hence when asked why it costs RM100 million to build a 2-kilometre rail link between KLIA and KLIA2, the response was, there was no response.
This is the government that says it understands the difficulties the people are facing with the increased costs of living, and then responded by pointing out there are cheap vegetables and RM1 chickens if you know where and when to look. Can’t find the RM1 chicken? Don’t fret, eat fish instead.
This is the government that says the country needs more money from its people, and then it goes to borrow billions more from investors, incurring massive interests payments, and then parked it out in a remote foreign island far away from Malaysia where the usual “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy applies.
At the end of the day, it does not matter if the GST is a “good” tax or a “bad” tax, if there is such a thing as a good tax at all. Malaysians households are already the highest indebted lot in Asia. If they have to even surrender an extra sen in these difficult times, and see it go into the pocket of a well-connected crony, or down the drain because an incompetent government officer sees it fit to order equipment that it does not need, or to pay for the cruise to conduct a “research” that does not benefit Malaysia, you can bet we DO NOT UNDERSTAND and we certainly DO NOT ACCEPT.
Sure, if the government does not get additional revenue from the GST to reduce its budget deficit, the nation’s credit-worthiness will suffer and borrowing costs will go up, impacting every Malaysian in the long run. But for the ordinary Malaysian struggling to pay his bills on time this month, perhaps that is a worry that is far from their minds.
As a dead economist once said, “In the long run, we are all dead”.
* CL Tang reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.