Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rally Against the GST Come May Day!


May Day is not something new in Malaysia. In fact 2010 will be the 16 time May Day is celebrated in the country whereby the annual celebration is to commemorate workers historical feat for their rights to be known as well as to highlight the plight of the marginalised workers in the country, which some firmly believe has yet to see light for the past years.

Less than a month away, the May Day which will see a peaceful rally against the GST this time around hope to spread the awareness to the people at large on the negative implications which can fall upon them should the GST be implemented. Given the struggle of the working class, especially since GST seems to be on their plate, the theme for this years annual celebration cannot be more appropriate than ‘GST: Makes Poor Poorer'.

A little walk along the road of history though; the May Day celebration which is the idea of the May Day Committee first same about in 1994 and ever since it has been an annual feat which sees NGOs, political figures and people of all walks of life gathered at a focus point in a chosen state. Last years May Day was held at Dataran Seremban in Negeri Sembilan and the theme was on the recession and how the people should be ‘saved' and not the cronies.

2010 May Day
This year's Labour Day celebration will be jointly organised by two bodies namely the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MUTC) and of course, the May Day Committee. It will be held at Dataran Merdeka at 11 am to a start of speeches from several heads of NGOs followed by a walk to Kampung Atap where the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia's building is situated. There will also be distribution of pamphlets to the general public - all in the good name of creating awareness.

In conjunction with the upcoming May Day celebration, the committee's secretariat held a press conference yesterday at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to give a better view of the 2010 celebration.

No to GST
This year's theme, ‘GST: Makes Poor Poorer' is one of the core factor which further accelerates the struggle on the committee to champion the rights of the working class. The committee comprises social bodies and NGOs such as the Oppressed People's Network (JERIT); Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram); Malaysian Youth & Student Democratic Movement (DEMA); and Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) among others. The likes of political party such as PAS and the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) also make up the ambitious components of the May Day committee.

Where the GST is concerned, Aruthchelvan, Secretary-General of PSM is in opinion that the very from of purported tax pressurises Malaysians particularly both the working class and the lower income group explaining that income disparity has widened and the Government's New Economic Model (NEM) clearly indicates that.

"Government statistics shows that income disparity is going up and with such situation, how can the GST, which takes the burden off the rich and shift it to the poor help?" he said during the press conference.

In most understanding, the GST will reduce corporate and income tax but there is no denial that the brunt will be felt by the lower income group more so if they don't qualify to pay income tax due to their wages.

Bringing down the Fiscal Deficit?
"We do not want the GST as a precursor to a high income society," said Dr. Mohd. Hatta Md. Ramli, Member of Parliament for Kuala Krai and PAS Treasurer. This came in response to the question on how the GST can improve Government coffers, reduce fiscal deficit and channel the money for development.

According to Dr. Hatta, the GST can be implemented if and only if the high income society has been attained and not when one is moving towards it.

"GST should be the result of an already attained high income society," he said while adding that support and cooperation from the people at large will not be a question by then.

With all the ballyhoo made on the possible GST implementation, it seems like opposing it has taken a much needed toss but rest assured it is not done just for the sake of opposing it. According to Jayanath Appudurai from SABM, the GST should be looked in the context of good governance.

"We are not opposing it for the sake of opposing it," said Jayanath.

"The Government must make their system right. There are too many leakages and expenditure - APCO and PKFZ are the few examples."

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