May 19, 2018
A Youth’s Take – A column
KUALA LUMPUR: THE past ten days since Pakatan Harapan formed the federal government have been nothing but exciting.
Where humdrum placidity appeared to be Barisan Nasional’s forte, Pakatan – particularly Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad – seemed to have a knack in dropping eye-brow-raising twists.
Honestly, the sheer amount of mind-blowing turnabouts and turnabouts of the previous turnabouts – which were deployed at breakneck speed – begs the question if the almost 93-year-old has been watching too many M. Night Shaymalan movies.
To the unfamiliar, Shaymalan is an American film director and screen writer known for making contemporary supernatural plots and twist endings.
A case in point was 2002’s Signs where a priest rediscovered his lost faith – due to his wife’s horrific death – after God concocted an unnecessarily mean faith-restoration plan which involved an alien invasion that was ultimately fended off when his brother in-law swung a wet baseball bat as the aliens were allergic to water.
But enough about Shaymalan. Let’s start with the twists in Pakatan’s plan to abolish the Goods and Services Tax .
Since he started his crusade against BN – the coalition he once spearheaded for 22 years – Mahathir had been playing the ‘I-will-abolish-GST-once-PH-forms-government’ card at almost every political rally.
When he handsomely won the 14th general elections on May 9, abolishing the tax regime was the among the first agenda on his first 100-day to-do-list. He even formed a think-tank team to essentially figure out how to go about the list.
However, a few days after the team’s formation, one of its members Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who was the governor of Bank Negara, sprinkled hints that abolishing GST within a 100 days may be a far cry.
Instead, she said the team will only come out with a proper plan on how to abolish the GST in 100 days. Interestingly, the day after Zeti said that the government announced that the six per cent GST rate will be reduced to zero starting June 1.
To the next twist….
Under the pretext of safeguarding free speech and press freedom, Pakatan had last month announced that it will do away with the Anti-Fake News Act but again did a U-turn just four days after the elections.
On May 13, Mahathir appeared on television and said that the government will not abolish the law, adding that it will be fine-tuned and that it will only be used against dispute-prompting fake news.
In what way will fake news not trigger public dispute is anybody’s guess.
The next day however Pakatan deputy president Lim Guan Eng of the DAP made a contradictory remark, insisting that the government will abolish the law. Not surprisingly Mahathir also retorted two days later that he was committed to put an end to the law.
The next notable plot twist is on Lim’s appointment as finance minister.
A day after he was sworn in as PM, Mahathir announced that Lim will be the finance minister. Expectedly the latter was beaming throughout the announcement.
Lim’s appointment was a tad peculiar given his two pending court cases, one of which is on the purchase of a bungalow in Penang at allegedly below market price.
When this was mentioned to Mahathir, the penny dropped and he replied that Lim’s appointment had yet to be finalised as he had yet to be sworn in.
Mahathir further said that Lim needed to clear his name first before he can be a minister. The plot went on another twist when Lim was yesterday named as finance minister.
Please note that the swearing in for Cabinet members is scheduled for May 21, the day Lim is also due to appear in court again. Interesting and titillating enough?
Could Pakatan eventually lose the plot? That would be one helluva of a party……