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The curse of letters

  • These sets of letters are enough to cause a headache individually. Imagine they all come together at once!

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

GST, FGV, TT, 1MDB, these strings of letters have popped up quite frequently before our eyes of late. They are more like a curse than a set of lucky letters, though.

These sets of letters are enough to cause a headache individually. Imagine they all come together at once!

For example, GST has for the last two years squeezed the wallets of Malaysians, and their heads as well. Although the cost of living is rising in much of the world, here in Malaysia only one thing has been specifically targeted: blame it on GST.

Where this is concerned, the viewpoints of the government and the general public are worlds apart. No matter how hard the government has tried to explain the need for GST to fill up the national coffers, the public don't seem to buy it anyway.

Even as the original taxable items have yet to win the approval of the public, out of the blue there was news that GST would be expanded to include over 60 other food items as well.

It was understandable that Malaysians in general were enraged.

None of our political pundits and observers could explain why the government had done this. Given the government's fiscal conditions at this moment, there is absolutely no need for such a move at all. Doing so will only put the government on the wrong side with the rakyat, and hopes to win the next GE as well.

In only one day, we saw a dramatic turnaround. The government said this would never happen.

So, was it the Customs DG who made the decision on his own accord or the government steered back having sensed the powerful public backlash?

I personally am more inclined to go with the former. Civil servants are no politicians. They do their jobs as per the law and generally lack the political sensitivity.

The opposition claimed that while the decision had been retracted this time, it would be reinstated after the election anyway.

Happening almost concurrently, FGV (Felda Global Ventures) announced a swap in its leadership, with the controversial chairman Isa bowing out.

Which, by right, should be a good thing. But, FGV and Felda shares were underperforming during Isa's chairmanship, much to the frustration of the settlers and shareholders. This, coupled with the intensifying internal conflicts, has prompted MACC to step in and probe,

After FGV, Isa will now move over to SPAD as its acting chairman.

Is Isa such a management master that the government cannot do away with?

No way! As a controversial figure, he should not have anything to do with any government-linked institution again, pending MACC investigation.

The PM has given him a new post, an important one in fact, one that is responsible for the country's tens of billions ringgit worth of public transportation projects. Does it make any sense?

In a similar manner, TT (tourism tax) is another thing Malaysians have big problem understanding. The problem with this new tax is nothing about the arguments between Nazri and the Sarawak minister, but the objective of its implementation and how it will be distributed and utilized. There has been an apparent lack of comprehensive planning and public education.

Even the date of implementation appears to have been hooked on to the tourism minster's personal inspiration.

Two most fundamental questions have yet to be expounded: how will the tourism tax revenue be put to use and how is it going to be distributed to individual states to develop their own tourist industry?

Sure enough such crude planning is destined to meet with strong public resistance.

Last but not least, the king of all curses is none other than 1MDB.

DOJ's stand has never softened with the changing of guard at the White House. With Trump now taking the place of Obama, DOJ has renewed its court filing.

Does the DOJ move have anything to do with changes in geopolitics? And how is the Malaysian government going to tackle the pressure from within and without the country?

This will put the Najib administration to a huge test.

 

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