NOVEMBER 15 — How do I know too many people in government haven’t been poor, or have forgotten what it’s like?

The imminent rise in our water and power bills, for one.

No matter what assurances we seem to be getting in the shorter term, it seems almost certain that GST will be implemented thanks to all the hints we are getting from carefully placed op-eds in various media sources.

Despite assurances the poor will not be affected, I would like to ask just how the government intends to do means testing, in a way that does not cost us more money than it supposedly saves.

It is far too common an occurrence that people turn up asking for help at welfare departments only to be made to fill out forms they might struggle with, or have to spend money they can ill-afford to spare just to make the trip to said departments.

Unless of course they are in such dire straits that they end up in a viral social media post or in the news, then magically a politician, his whole host of aides as well as half the nearest welfare department, show up and poof!

All that red tape melts away with the promise of donations and a monthly cheque.

While I welcome the introduction of capital gains tax, I am rather incensed with the prevailing neoliberal sentiment in the government to hike up the price of basic goods with the excuse “we don’t want to subsidise the rich”.

I guess providing EV discounts, giving Tesla exclusive privileges not given to other foreign companies and making EV chargers more available when the majority of the population can’t afford EVs is somehow not subsiding the rich?

It’s rather ridiculous that from reading all the arguments for GST they can be summarised as “oh the poor don’t spend much so they won’t be affected” and “there’s too little tax coming in”.

The government still refuses to bring back the inheritance tax — the argument that all that amassed wealth has “already been taxed” is hilarious when the highest tax bracket pays a lot less compared to many other places in the world.

I know I sound like a broken record but this broken record will keep playing until its human player falls down dead — we need to fix incomes.

If incomes are stagnant as they have been for the last few decades, every little price increase for basic goods will hurt.

The tax discount I got from the recent budget announcement was roughly RM50. That will quickly get swallowed up by the upcoming hikes to my power and water bills, where I will go from taking home RM50 more to having RM300-500 less in discretionary income.

Lest people forget, the way GST hurt so many people’s incomes partially led to the BN-Umno government’s ouster.

For some reason whoever is advising the government’s finances seems to think that a one-time RM100 eWallet offering will make people forget they will pay more for essentials.

That money won’t even cover my electricity bill but what do I know, I’m only a journalist without an economics or finance degree.

The writer says if incomes are stagnant as they have been for the last few decades, every little price increase for basic goods will hurt. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
The writer says if incomes are stagnant as they have been for the last few decades, every little price increase for basic goods will hurt. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

I am exasperated because inflation and rising costs are likely part of the reason why MPs are jumping ship, because otherwise they can’t afford to serve their constituencies.

It’s high time we make representative allocations to all states, regardless of political leaning, mandatory because even if it might please some politicians to punish voters, they forget that the tactic of “starving” constituencies is not effective — at least if you judge by Kelantan’s predictable support of its government.

I am also really tired of short-term prime ministers though we should also think of setting maximum terms for them, because at this rate, by the time I pass on, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad might well become prime minister again.

What do I want? This Madani government to hold itself together by trying new things instead of believing in the debunked myth of trickle-down economics, that only the rich believe in.

Buck up or we will end up with yet another prime minister soon, as the party hopping law loophole has now been exposed — that means it’s open season once again for buying allegiance.

We all know that in Malaysia, anything, and anyone, can be bought for the right price because truly Malaysia Boleh.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.