It is GST-day in Malaysia, and whilst the shops are mostly yet to open, this blogger has not as yet experienced any signs of meltdown, at least not between my home in Taman Tun Dr Ismail and the Brickfields area where I work.
As usual, there has been an eruption of user generated material on social media, thankfully most in jest or poking fun at the GST... it is a new tax after all, and no one likes any tax, however good it is supposed to be! Back at home, I only had to suffer my wife returning from last minute pre-GST shopping at about 11pm last night. I have a couple of new belts and a new pair of shoes as well bought 2 nights ago. Interesting to note Malaysians NOT rushing to buy stuff pre-GST either, at least not at OU or Masjid India where were!
So are we seeing the normal storm in the teacup or have all partisan sides and the social media now been so discreditted that Malaysians have just decided to wait and see first before judging which side of the 'GST is good for you' vs 'KitaLawan GST' debate is right?
What this blogger does find distrubing though is the racial slant that the GST debate has taken especially in the last few months. We have social media material flying around claiming that the UMNO/Malay-led government is using GST to get more money from the rakyat to buy private jets and other nonsensical items of expediture. All unsubstantiated of course, and conveniently forgetting the much lauded PAP/Chinese-led Singapore government introduced GST 3 decades ago... can be trusted ka? Coz... ?
Then there is the reverse rhetoric about how Chinese businesses are using several strategies to 'dodge' GST, like breaking up firms into smaller enterprises, each with revenues less than the RM500k GST threshold - also not making sense as such an action results in other costs to escalate for the broken up enterprises and ignores other elements like loan liabilities. Still, this plays to the mantra of GST being good as it supposedly will make the 'Chinese traders' more 'honest' when dealing with 'Malay consumers'!
Now we hear that there is a 200,000 strong volunteer force out there to help authorities monitor against businesses profiteering from GST. So this volunteer force comprises of... multi-racial group ka? Got target businesses for them to 'monitor' ka... multi-racial owned also?
This can get really ugly very quickly, but this is what it is coming to in multi-racial Malaysia. So, the real risk to GST may end up being racial tension and disharmony escalating! Brings the hatred of taxes to new levels!