KUALA LUMPUR — May 27, 2015: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today continued to counter the criticisms hurled at him and the government, this time focusing on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and allegations raised by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In his blog posting at NajibRazak.com, he said: “This is the continuation of the previous FAQ (frequently asked questions).”
Najib had on May 17 listed 13 allegations and claims along with his response in his blog, among which were allegations pertaining to the Altantuya issue and 1MDB.
In response to criticisms against the GST, Najib said: “I understand that some concerns have been expressed on the introduction of the GST. However, as prime minister, it is my responsibility to make the right decisions for all Malaysians, even if it can seem difficult at the time.
“At the moment, only one in 10 Malaysian pays personal income tax and it is important that we broaden our tax base for the long-term good of the economy.
“Furthermore, it is important to note that 23 per cent of the government’s revenue currently comes from oil and gas.
“As we have seen from the recent steep fall in global oil prices, Malaysia cannot sustain its growth and development based on this revenue stream alone. This is why we announced a reform of the tax system, with the Goods and Services Tax replacing the Sales and Service Tax.
“The GST will help us build a stronger, more sustainable and transparent economy: it will help reduce our deficit, help us invest in our future, and help drive forward our national development.
“Unfortunately, rather than seeking to understand the economic rationale and the long-term benefit this will bring to the rakyat (people), some politicians have been attacking the GST, portraying this as an unusual and unnecessary measure for a country of Malaysia’s size.
“However, GST is not a new phenomenon. More than 160 countries have implemented this and in Asean, our neighbourhood, we are the eighth country to introduce the tax.
“Furthermore, Malaysia’s six per cent rate is one of the lowest in the world. By contrast, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia all have a 10 per cent GST rate.
“Having said that, I have been made aware that some unscrupulous businesses, both big and small, are trying to take advantage of the introduction of GST to increase prices above the 6 per cent rate. This is completely unacceptable.
“I have instructed the relevant departments to step up their enforcement to ensure that any increase introduced by shopkeepers and business owners are in line with the six per cent GST rate, and that any abuse of this system which negatively harms the consumer is brought to a halt.”
On Mahathir’s allegations, Najib said: “I accept criticism with an open mind and will continue to address legitimate concerns and feedback. We must also always respect our elders who have done a lot for Malaysia.
“However, I know many believe that it is time they let the next generation run the country, and this includes overcoming problems and challenges on our own.
“Malaysia is a democracy. I was elected by UMNO, and by the people of this country, to lead them. Therefore, I have their mandate and I am answerable to the party and the people, not to any one individual.
“At the next general election and party election, the party and the rakyat can exercise their democratic right through the ballot box.
“Furthermore, many of Tun’s criticisms are unfair or misleading: he is opposed to the implementation of GST, although all credible economists believe that broadening our tax base is the right thing to do. The revenue will be used for the welfare of the rakyat. Indeed, the idea was first mooted during his administration.
“Tun has echoed malicious opposition rumours concerning my wife and family.
“For example, in a recent speech in Ipoh, he cited a fictitious statement that the opposition has been peddling through the use of a doctored Utusan (Malaysia) article.
“Also, he regurgitated a false smear started by the opposition at the time of the last general election that my wife owned a RM24-million ring.
“It is a lie, and the company that owned the ring clarified in detail at the time that such a ring was never bought by (Datin Seri) Rosmah (Mansor). It is
regrettable that someone of Tun’s stature should pass on such slander to the people.
“He also echoed the opposition in raising the purchase of the replacement government jet, claiming that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong does not use the jet, calling me a liar. But again this is false – His Majesty was in fact the first VIP passenger to use the newly-arrived aircraft for a trip to Langkawi, and will continue to do so.
“Tun has used the financial challenges facing 1MDB as an excuse to attack me. It is true that 1MDB is facing challenges, but not at the level being alleged.
“Indeed, some of the allegations that have been made have no grounding in reality. For instance Tun’s claim that I am responsible for a loss of RM42
billion on 1MDB’s balance sheet.
“This appears to be a deliberate twisting of the facts as 1MDB has not made a loss of this amount. This is the amount of its total debt; debt that is far
exceeded by the company’s assets of RM51 billion, as audited and confirmed by Deloitte.
“Most large companies around the world have high levels of debt, there is nothing unusual about this.
“He also claimed that I do not answer issues surrounding 1MDB, but I have gone beyond that – and instructed the Auditor General to conduct an audit, the results of which will be presented to the bipartisan Public Accounts Committee.
“Tun often claims that he is doing something because of what people tell him when they come to see him. However, he should check whether such hearsay and claims have any evidence and truth before airing them. He knows well that many allegations were made about what happened under his administration.
“And always Tun’s answer was: “Where is the proof?” He should be applying the same test to what he hears.
“Although much has been achieved in the first six years of my administration, all of the progress that our country and BN (Barisan Nasional) has made are being ignored in favour of baseless allegations and lies started by the opposition.
“Much of what Tun has said lacks objectivity and is downright wrong.
“The question should be asked – what is Tun’s motivation in choosing this moment to regurgitate smears manufactured by the very opposition groups that he previously denounced as liars?
“During his 22 years in power, Tun had always insisted on party members supporting the leadership, especially during challenging times. We did our part then, and I supported him through thick and thin. I did so because I believed then, as I do now, that party unity is a prerequisite for what we want to achieve for the country. The vast majority of UMNO members still recognise that real loyalty means working together to build the party for the good of the rakyat.
“It is wrong for Tun and any party members to undermine today’s party leadership just because their personal wishes are not met. The interests of the people and the party are far more important than any one individual.
“I was democratically elected by both the party and the people, and, as I have the mandate, will complete my term as party president and prime minister.
“My priority is to ensure that we achieve Vision 2020 and the economic, governmental and political transformation that will benefit all Malaysians.