Last week, tens of thousands of Malaysians descended on the road in front of Merdeka Square (as the Square itself was being refurbished) to have a protest rally on the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) that our government intends to introduce in April 2015. However, I did not join the rally this time around because I actually think that the implementation of GST will be good for this country.
I have encountered many situations where I speak to normal people about how our government is robbing us blind by misusing our country’s wealth, including the monies paid by hard-working tax payers, and been cheekily told by these people that they do not pay any income tax and they don’t really care. So, they’re essentially leeching off the system without having to foot the bill.
This shocked me initially until I discovered that a whopping 85% of our local work force does not pay any income tax, not because they are actively evading it but, because they do not earn enough to qualify to pay real income tax. This was troubling to me.
This is one reason why I think that the GST is good for Malaysia.
When we are forced to pay for something, we tend to scrutinise it more. So, by making every Malaysian a consumption tax payer, I am hoping that it will raise the consciousness of the people who will then scrutinise our Auditor General’s reports more carefully and learn how the government is actually mishandling their contributions.
I have also come to realise that although a lot of our Malaysians are earning so little that they do not even have to pay taxes, they are still able to get by, maybe just barely. Even our poor are still able to have a roof over their head. And we certainly do not hear of people dropping dead on the streets due to starvation.
Therefore, a lot of people in Malaysia are ‘content’ in the sense that they are happy to live a simple life. This is more evident in the rural communities. They are generally comfortable to be left alone and to live from hand to mouth. And they can still afford to do so even with the system squeezing them more and more.
This is where I think that the GST will come in handy again.
The GST is set to squeeze them harder. They make just enough to get by and are used to it by now. With the GST, they would not be able to easily escape its effects even with tax exemptions. So, when people are forced to choose, I believe that it’s basic animal instinct to choose our stomachs over keeping the status quo. Bellies can only be tied so much.
So, I personally feel that GST is a good thing for our country even if it is likely to increase the cost of doing business for me. I am willing to take the hit in light of the greater good – by making every Malaysian a conscious tax-payer and by squeezing us out of our comfort zones. It will be our catalyst for social change.
This is the reason why I did not go out to support the anti-GST rally this time around.