Category Archives: Politics

GST, Tax Evasion & Corruption

Lately, there has been a lot of hoo-hah on the proposed GST (Goods & Services Tax).

As usual, the “proposer” went ahead and made some big statements without explaining the facts.

And as usual, a few “opposers” almost as quickly went ballistic and began quoting some startling numbers that scared many; it scared the heck out of me at least!

Then, as always in Bolehland, appeared the “damage controllers” to do some cut and paste repair job that said a lot of things without really answering the questions that were thrown up in the first place! Surprise! Surprise!

Therefore, as usual, the man, woman and whoever else in the street, who was actually keen to find out what was really happening, had to probably do what I had to do to get a better picture of  the unfolding drama – Google it!

And so, I found a few “nuggets” (positive and otherwise) that may or may not help whoever is reading this:

1. GST stands for Goods & Service Tax.

2. When and If the GST is finally imposed, the existing Sales & Service Tax will be abolished. Therefore you and I won’t be scr***d by double taxation as some have alluded to.

3. The GST is scheduled to come into effect in 2015(Why am I bothered now, in 2013? Good question, as usual, I have no answers. I am just a blogger, and a part-time one at that!).

4. The GST will bring in approximately a RM27 billion annual kitty to the governments coffers – according to Business Times today.

5. The GST will mean “better economic management”. At the moment, it seems there are too many leakages – erm…and I don’t think they include the US$291 billion illicit funds outflow from Malaysia as reported by the Global Finance Integrity Report.

6. The POOR may face difficulties once GST is imposed! (Now – this is a killer. Who are the poor? The poor poor in the remote areas, kampungs and inner cities or the poor who are poor even though they are not supposed to be poor? Who decides who is poor? Interestingly, those earning RM3000 and less are also in this category.  And yet – we cannot even agree to a minimum wage of RM900!).

7. To offset the above really scary scenario, the government (or someone) will need to fork out cash handouts (yes, like the infamous BR1M RM500. Our neighbor Singapore, had to fork out S$2000 (approx. RM4940) per household for 10 years when they implemented the GST. Now, does this mean we are 10 years behind our highly developed friends…??)

8. In lieu of the above handouts scenario, the other option is to factor in a zero percent tax rate for basic food, and giving tax exemptions on housing, medical, insurance, transport and toll to ease the burden on the “lower” income group. (I’m assuming “lower” here means RM3000 p.m. and below).

9. Interestingly, or rather, worryingly, statistics show that Malaysia has a 12 million workforce. Unfortunately, only 1.7 million pay income tax! Either we are expert con-men (and women) or 91.7% employees are below the level of taxation income.

10. If and when GST is implemented, what are the rates going to be? Again, the figures given by the “authorities” are murky and decidedly unclear. Someone said nothing less than 7%. Another said 6%. Yet another one said anything less than 4% would be “meaningless”. For a comparison, Singapore, started at 3% before gradually raising it to the present 7% mark.

11. Finally, the GST is sort of a standard practice worldwide. Contrary to what some may believe, it is not an idea of the current government so they can grab more of your and my hard earned money . (Thank goodness for that, because it means properly managed, the GST could actually be a good thing. For me, the keyword here is – “properly managed” – because that’s where the problems and answers lie. But to do it right, we have to get rid of the incompetence that has haunted us in practically every field for the past 30 odd years. And that – is a tall order.)

12. All information above was gathered from these three sources, thanks to Google!

And now, a word from our sponsors:

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The Dawn of A New Beginning

This is Part 3 of a short series on the 13th Malaysian General Elections, written by a close friend. With just 48 hours to go before polling begins in what’s becoming acknowledged as the most anticipated elections in Malaysia‘s history, we, the people need to ask ourselves a few hard questions. For one, do we have a government that we deserve?  Second, as my friend explains, we have the power to make this happen, to make an immeasurable difference to the lives of our children and our children’s children. Let this be the dawn of a new beginning.

When the prospect of the DAP using the PAS logo arose, the Barisan Nasional launched with even greater fervor a campaign to play up the fear of Islamic law and hudud. The New Straits Times and The Star notoriously ran stories over and over again on their front pages about how PAS intends to introduce hudud law if they come to power. While commentators, analysts and experts have shown in their writings that this is not possible, a simple analysis by any discerning person would bring us to the same conclusion…this is not possible at all and it is a fabrication and a fear tactic.

Nevertheless, the powers that be have succeeded in causing some form of dissonance amongst some of us. While it is obvious that the target “audience” is non-muslim, it seems to have affected some Christians who are within this target group, to a greater extent. This dissonance has been further fueled by rumours, hear-say, deceptive and even fraudulent sms-es, twitter and email.

One such email purportedly written by a person or a group of Christians, presumably supporters of the DAP, was forwarded to me. The content was well crafted to undermine any undiscerning person, especially Christians, of the impending danger ahead of us. It cites the perils of Islamization and specifically the hudud law and the possibility of its implementation if the Pakatan come into power. It even insidiously suggests that the reader abstain from voting almost making it sound like a religious duty to passively protest. I found this email, just like other similar attempts to confuse and mislead the rakyat, immature, short-sighted and deceptive. I suspect its credibility and its authenticity and would go even further to call it mischievous.

Far from eluding us, the truth is staring right at us: … The truth is that corruption has reached an intolerable stage. Corruption has robbed this country of her resources thereby compromising the quality of life of every Malaysian. … The truth is that racism and religious bigotry are rearing their ugly heads in every facet of life of every Malaysian, thus causing division and disharmony. … The truth is that many of us are not happy with how things are in this country and have felt helpless. … The truth is that these are the fruits of the present system.

We come to this truth from our own discernment. Our conscience speaks to us and it cannot lie, it is formed by our religious and moral values. Our intelligent minds coupled with the wisdom that we have acquired cannot but point us to the truth. Our hearts filled with the passion for life, with goodness and hope, strive for this truth. And our hearts will not rest until we find it, experience it and live it.

And we also hope that our beliefs, ideas, moral attitudes are shared by others in our society thus making it a collective conscience and collective wisdom.

Knowing the truth, we must trust ourselves to know what to do, to be certain of our discernment and hence our decision despite the rumours, deceptions, illusions, cons, coercions and threats around us. This certainty will give us the courage and freedom to choose wisely, to choose how we want to live from now on, to choose change.

At this point in time I feel that we need to remain calm and collected as we prepare to do one of the most important tasks of our lives. A task that will also have an important bearing on the lives of our family, friends, the whole of society and it is going to be part of one of the most important chapters in the history of our country. We are in dire need of a people(rakyat) powered nation, a nation led by servant leaders who when elected, will want to serve and not to be served.

We have the power to make this happen, to make an immeasurable difference to the lives of our children and our children’s children. Let this be the dawn of a new Beginning.

 

dawn

 

Graphic copyright of http://personalexcellence.co/quotes/166
 

Reject Darkness Embrace Light

A disclosure of all that’s wrong with the ongoing GE13 campaigning and an exhortation to choose something better. This is Part Two in a short series on the 13th Malaysian General Elections from a fellow traveller:

light-1024x576

image copyright: http://duveroth.com/

A simple analysis of the contents of the elections campaign and its strategies especially by Barisan Nasional has left much to be desired. In fact it can give any normal human person the creeps and metaphorically speaking, it seems like a open invitation to hell.

The campaign which is supposed to further elaborate and present in the most creative forms the principles, manifestoes, vision and mission of the parties and individual candidates is nothing but a vehement appeal to the darker side of the human person.

…Cash handouts, free vouchers, free meals coupled with free entertainment and the further promise of more cash seem to set the tone for the BN campaign. This is to entice the rakyat into supporting them of course but this appeals to greed.

…The constant reference to May 13th, and the threat of violence and unrest erupting if the BN do not have power appeals to fear.

…The continued stress on Malay supremacy and preferential privilege to be accorded appeal to racism, prejudice and discrimination.

…Pitting Muslims against Christians and the constant alluding to the threat of Christianity appeals to religious bigotry.

…The BN in campaigning on various issues only seems to appeal to the insecurities and vulnerabilities of the people.

These seem to take the centre-stage for the BN thrust to retain power. There is hardly anything that appeals to the goodness, maturity, intelligence, compassion and integrity of the people. There is nothing encouraging about the message of the BN. They are not campaigning on their merits but preying on the dark and dreary side of human limitation, thus counting on human failure for their success.

By doing so the BN has virtually no respect for the people, since it has no respect for the human person. Its strategies reek of human destruction, bent on breaking rather than building society. When there is no respect for the human person, there is no regard for human dignity and when there is no regard for human dignity, there is no regard for human rights. When there is no regard for human rights there is no social justice. Social justice is the foundation for a healthy, just and harmonious society.

A society characterized by the belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic and social life is possible if we decide on the right persons to be our leaders. Our criteria to choose must be those who can genuinely empower us and constantly appeal to our brighter side, to our goodness and to create a society where every person lives out his/her fullest potential.

GE 13: What Could Still Be Done

Most of us would agree there are a lot of things going on almost all at once in the run up to GE13 – I sense mainly enthusiasm and hope on one side and fear and rumour mongering on the other.

What to make of all this? What can I do, given there’s only 4 days to the polls? These are some of the questions running through my head. Well, here’s one way forward, thanks to my friend Make Peace. Very timely and apt for the occasion. Read on!

WHAT COULD STILL BE DONE?

With a few days to go before the nation goes to the polls in what would be the closest, most keenly fought battle between the the ruling party and the opposition ever, one wonders what could still be done to ensure that the whole process of the elections would be carried out in a clean and fair manner.

What could still be done to ensure that the elections truly enables the nation to choose leaders who will truly govern the country with democracy, justice, equality and integrity? . What could still be done to rid this country of all its maladies, namely the malady of corruption, the malady of racism, the malady of injustice, the malady of poverty and marginalization of the poor and the voiceless?

What could still be done despite the biased mainstream media, the maleficence spewed by many of the candidates and personalities linked to the powers that be (perhaps not for long) causing some of the rakyat to fear, to waver, to doubt what they already, obviously and intrinsically know to be the truth and nothing but the truth?

What could still be done to ensure that we are not going to be frustrated for the next five years, that we are not going to be grumbling during our teh-tarik sessions or any where else, about the leaders who continue to amass great fortunes at the expense of the quality of life every Malaysian deserves?

What could still be done by us, true, loyal , peace loving, honourable and good hearted Malaysians?

While the candidates and their respective parties are giving all they can in the run up to the elections, many of us I believe are also contributing in many ways. Some of us have become polling agents, joined groups and NGOs monitoring the authenticity of the whole process, helping out at the various bilik-bilik gerakan, attending ceramahs, writing in news portals and blogs and giving our time and energy in various ways and even our money.

What could still be done?

Some of us may have heard of the concept – “pay it forward”. It’s a philosophy asking the beneficiary of a good deed to repay it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight.

Pay It Forward is also a 2000 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde. It was directed by Mimi Leder and written by Leslie Dixon. It stars Haley Joel Osment as a boy who launches a good-will movement, Helen Hunt as his single mother, and Kevin Spacey as his social-studies teacher.

When eleven and a half year old Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) begins seventh grade in Las Vegas, Nevada, his social studies teacher Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) gives the class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better. Trevor’s plan is a charitable programme based on the networking of good deeds. He calls his plan “Pay It Forward”, which means the recipient of a favour does

a favour for three others rather than paying the favour back. However, it needs to be a major favour that the receivers cannot complete themselves. Trevor does a favour for three people, asking each of them to “pay the favour forward” by doing favours for three other people, and so on, along a branching tree of good deeds.

Based on this same concept, I would like to answer the question…WHAT COULD STILL BE DONE? : The answer: SAY IT FORWARD!

We have been enlightened by the right spirit and right information and right motivation with regard to what we want for our country, not just for ourselves and our loved ones but for all. And we need to pass this to others and this process would be more effective than any web portal, twitter, email, sms, ceramah , press conference….

We need to SAY IT FORWARD. We have been enlightened, and it is imperative that we enlighten others, especially those who may be in the dark through no fault of theirs. So could I suggest that each of us choose to talk to 3 persons (face to face) who we think will benefit from this endeavour explaining to them the importance to come out to vote and to vote for the candidate and party based on all the right reasons. We could help dispel all the fears that have plagued and paralysed many a good Malaysian, with all the facts and figures we can obtain. And most importantly we could share with them our passion and hope for a better and greater Malaysia. And when we have done that, we could convince them to share all that we had articulated with 3 others explaining this simple concept of saying it forward, encouraging and inspiring them to continue this process.

The time is now, we have a few days but much can be achieved, so lets begin this process…I believe it can work.

LET’S SAY IT FORWARD!

 

 

 

Who NOT to vote for!

This morning I happened to go to one of my regular restaurants for “apom manis”.

As I was about to pay up and leave, the boss who happens to be a friend and a fellow Malaysian of Indian descent casually asked….

“Where are you voting?”

I replied, “Right here…at Sekolah Kebangsaan So and So”…

He went again, “Ahh..but who are you voting for?”

I gave him a wry smile…. I think he got the answer. I felt there was something more and waited …. Sure enough, he went on to add…

“Back in 2008, it was easier…we (the Indians, I believe) knew who to vote for.  This time, I’m not so sure…”

He made as if  to leave to get back to his business and not wanting to impose, I said “Just follow your conscience….”, meaning to go back and have a longer chat with him. After all there’s still another week to go to the polls I thought.

I came back home, checked my mail and I found this video from a friend.

It’s 18minutes plus, but watch especially the Intro, and the 2.10/5.0/7.0 and 8.30 minute marks.

That should help my friend and indeed all Malaysian Indians make up their mind.

 

Merdeka Unplugged (3)

Communication Breakdown.

That was a Led Zepelin hit from their self titled 1969 debut album. It’s also something that crops up every now and then when the topic “relationships” come up. Ouch!

An old (and recently happily re-connected) friend explained how she feels that in the large scheme of things, we seem to have forgotten to talk to one another.  However, I was also reminded there’s also the problem with mere “talking” – when it remains one dimensional;  people love to “talk” but don’t really “communicate”.

Just for the record, “talking” here refers to “communicating”.

We all have our own opinions on just about anything.  But, when problems crop up, we don’t really sit down and talk things through our differences. Instead, we sulk, get hurt, blow things out of proportion, criticize and whack each other, and generally don’t give a hoot to what the OTHER person thinks and feels while believing that we are almost always right.

Tellingly, this malaise happens across all segments of society – it’s very common between husbands and wives(!), parents and children, among siblings and friends; between communities and states, organizations and religious bodies – indeed all along the watchtower and everywhere in between.

Take the Merdeka 2012 (Malaysian Independence Day) celebrations that run from mid August – 16 September for example. I couldn’t have experienced a more tired, cliched, underhanded, overblown and divided national day celebration that happened on that eve and the actual day itself.

On one hand we had the government running its own supposedly inclusive celebrations complete with its theme and song and “invited guests only” at one stadium, while assorted groups of citizens initiated their own versions of commemorating Merdeka day elsewhere. The media, depending on which side of the divide they were on, got out all their usual trumpeting with unrestrained gutso.

Did we miss the forest for the trees? Was there any attempt to dialogue beforehand? If no, why not? If yes, how did all these “varying celebrations” crop up? This was not another political affair. This was supposedly the commemoration of our liberation from the colonial powers. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

On a smaller scale though, there were a few noble souls voicing moderation and respect for one another; there was at least one initiative to “say something nice” this Merdeka. I’d like to think it worked.

Really, “Have we forgotten to talk to one another?”

On a lighter note, a reminder from 1979:

Famous last words:

“When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.” – (Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Dairy Queen)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merdeka Unplugged (2)

55 years of Independence
Wonderful memories
Unfortunately too
Our share of atrocities

Some milestones reached
Other rights breached
Never is easy
Embracing one’s history

Yet here we stand
Hesitant and uncertain
What the future entails
But still together
Still intertwined

All said
And all done
Whatever the right
No matter the wrong
This is the only domicile
To which we can ever belong
Happy Merdeka everyone!

Merdeka Unplugged (1)

Random thoughts on the road less traveled to commemorating Merdeka 2012:

Fact: As idiotic it may seem, I didn’t know until today that Merdeka derives from the Sanskrit word Maharddhika meaning “rich, prosperous and powerful”.  One simple expression that conjures up a very potent image.

Reality: Yet, when I look at my country today, if I ignore the propaganda and the half-truths, I ask myself “Are we truly rich, prosperous and powerful?”.  A simple 4 point checklist on some of the most pressing issues:

  • the right to equal opportunity education,
  • the right to own affordable homes,
  • the right to earn a decent wage, taking into account the actual increasingly high cost of living;
  • the right to security;

shows quite the contrary.

Lessons from the Past

Famous Last Words: “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – (William Faulkner, author).

(*Note: All pictures from Google Images and their respective owners)

A Different Kind of Olympics (5)

30 years before Athens staged what is commonly known as the Modern Olympic games,Llandudno, a seaside resort town in Wales organized its own Olympics – not once but twice!

A BBC news report earlier this year highlights what and how that happened.

But,  it was not forgotten when this year’s edition of the Summer Games came along. The town was graced by the passing of the Olympic torch on its way to London on 29 May 2012.

In pictures: Llandudno’s 1866 Olympics remembered.

Strange, but illuminating, heartwarming and even spiritual, if you look at it that way.

Source: BBC News