Dr Mahathir said that if Malaysians fall for the lofty promises of the opposition, Malaysia could end up facing severe economic and financial difficulties like many European countries. (AFP Photo)
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should be careful not to fall for opposition promises, says former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, because it is unlikely the opposition could deliver on those promises without serious consequences.
Dr Mahathir highlighted the difficulties currently plaguing Europe’s economies, and said Malaysians should look at the causes of those difficulties “because we who are fond of copying the Europeans might be going the same way”.
“Simply put the decline is due largely to living beyond their means,” he said. “In other words they are spending more money than they actually have or earn.”
Asians used to buy European and American goods, Dr Mahathir said, but have not done so for decades because they are expensive and of poor quality. He said the workers who produce those products are paid high wages and enjoy wide-ranging benefits but are not very productive.
In fact, he said, they demand to be treated even better and often go on strike, driving up the cost of production.
Dr Mahathir said countries that were unable to cope with the demands of their workers and the high cost of production had to borrow money, which led them to their current predicament.
“When we borrow in order to just spend, we will never be able to repay,” he said. “What can happen to individuals who borrow in order to spend can also happen to countries. They go bankrupt.”
The former Prime Minister said the lesson for Malaysians is that while it would be nice to enjoy lower taxes, toll-free roads and free university for all, making those dreams a reality would put the Government under tremendous strain.
“We seem unaware that when we reduce or abolish tolls, the Government has to compensate the operators. What this means is that Government expenditure would increase just when revenue decreases,” he said, adding that people would still be paying for tolls, albeit indirectly, through taxes.
Dr Mahathir criticised the opposition’s promise to give higher revenue to oil-producing states. He also said the demand to do away with PTPTN and make higher education free for all is unrealistic.
“The opposition can promise to remove all payments by the people, but all the expressways, education service and the amenities/infrastructure will have to be paid by someone,” he said.
“We think of the Government as some sugar daddy with unlimited funds. It is not. Government money is in fact our money acquired through taxes of all kinds. Reducing tax will mean the Government has less money, and forcing the Government to pay for all our needs will lead us to bankruptcy,” he said.
Read more at CHE DET.