MALAYSIA - Former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah distributed a six-page letter to his fellow parliamentarians urging the Government to consider postponing the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax next April.
He cited the currently unfavourable state of the country's economy as the reason, and implored Putrajaya to listen to the grouses of the people over the new tax that has faced constant criticism in Parliament as well as from the public through social media. Tengku Razaleigh said GST should be postponed to a time when the economy was more stable and on a more solid footing.
"And if it has to be implemented, the rate should also be looked at again," said the MP for Gua Musang, who also asked Putrajaya to be sensitive of other factors that could lead to the continued weakening of the economy, including laws such as the Official Secrets Act as well as the Universities and University Colleges Act.
He argued that there has to be a significant shift in the management of the national economy within "the next five years to a decade" to avoid an economic crisis.
"The economic perspective reveals that our country is headed in the wrong direction.
"The present economic direction may not be defensible," he said, adding that if left unchecked, the nation would slip into an economic crisis that would result in de-stabilisation of peace, prosperity and security.
He cited federal debts of RM41bil and RM1.273tril in business loans and household borrowings as examples of factors that introduced inherent weaknesses in the country's financial system.
He also expressed concern over total debt that had reached 87 per cent of the gross national product, saying it was at a worrying level.
On leakages, Tengku Razaleigh said Parliament should set up an Ombudsman which is free to act and is responsible directly to it.