Pakatan’s Budget: More questions than answers

Hafidz Baharom

I LOVE reading raw reports to find main points without relying on the media to summarise them. There is something more satisfying about noticing point after point that was not highlighted or perhaps lost in translation. 

On a whole, the Pakatan Harapan Budget this year was as believable as any Disney fairytale brought to life. It was filled with enough fantasy to actually justify the turtles being high in Finding Nemo. 

First off, the Federal Opposition believes in returning to petrol subsidies, but only for the poor. They will do this by limiting the subsidy to cars and motor vehicles below 1000cc. It’s a good idea. 

But how much will it cost to implement?

Similarly, PH believes in shrinking the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by shifting the departments back into relevant ministries. Somehow, this will shrink the PMO’s budget. And yet, they have omitted mentioning that the cost would then be borne by other ministries since it’s a mere transfer. 

Awkwardly, this even includes the Commission for Human Rights Malaysia (SUHAKAM). Where will this be parked? 

And then, there is the continuation for handing out the “bird feed”(dedak), or as everyone else calls it, the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M). However, it comes with a twist. BR1M would only be spent at certain shops, which will police what the recipients buy. 

Will they be establishing a Gestapo, policing what people buy, policing what shops sell, and then adding a bureaucracy to check if people are applying for jobs so they can determine who is truly worthy of BR1M? What if certain employers do not pay their workers’ EPF or Socso, which I am sure are plenty here in Malaysia?

Are we then going to have employees left out of the welfare net because of their employers faults?

Let us move on, since it’s a long list. 

I have never hidden the fact that I back the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and will continue to back it now. Thus, I’m very much against the return to the Sales and Services Tax (SST) because it had too many loopholes – which was why the price of goods went up the way it did. 

Instead, this dream budget believes that by easing the GST, it would increase the sale of property and cars both by 20%. On top of that, there will somehow be a micro boom in which Malaysians will head out and consume more without the tax. 

This doesn’t sound much like a responsible government move, does it? After all that talk about consumers being more prudent, this seems like an encouragement to go out and spend more. How exactly will this lower household debt is a mystery to me. 

At the same time, prices of goods are sticky, and the current petrol price system reflects that. On a micro scale, have you noticed your teh tarik prices have not changed every week with the rise of petrol prices?

It did before, but due to the change being too volatile, traders have stopped taking advantage of it. Thus, prices become stable. 

Would an introduction of a petrol subsidy lower that? No. 

There are great points in the budget – buying out the tolls is one of them. However, the proceeds from the tolls go into our own pockets when we retire. Taking that away, how will it impact the Employee Providence Fund (EPF)?

Instead, the toll concessions need to be allowed to die a natural death by increasing the rates and ending the concession periods as soon as possible especially in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley. 

Similarly, how will the proposed 10% capital gains tax affect your retirement funds, your unit trusts, and even your Tabung Haji funds? I’ve highlighted this to PH two years ago that there needs to be proper exclusions to stop this proposed tax from harming middle class Malaysians saving up for their retirements. 

But then again, Malaysians forget easily. 

As for the increase foreign worker levies, I’m not sure if PH knows that these are not paid by companies, but by the foreign workers themselves. These levies are deducted from each foreign worker’s salaries. 

An increase in levies therefore will not impact companies so much as it impacts the foreign workers already here, and those who will come. The government tried to make it mandatory to be paid by the companies without salary deductions, but it was shot down. 

Thus, we are penalising people coming here to work even more with this proposed increase. 

I love the fact that PH does want to increase minimum wage to RM1,500 but they should go one step ahead to say this RM1,500 should not include benefits and allowances; it is their basic salary to take home. This is something that people may not notice, but the minimum wage is currently somehow inclusive of allowances and benefits. 

There are good points and bad points in the 2018 Pakatan Harapan Budget. However, the major problem I have with it is that it isn’t a budget – it’s a manifesto. It is the hopes and dreams of what the party may do with federal power. 

And I personally believe they aren’t ready for it just yet. – October 27, 2017.

* Hafidz loves to ruffle feathers and believes in the EA Games tag line of challenging everything. Most times, he represents the Devil’s Advocate on multiple issues.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.


  • I am open to 'out-of-the-box' bizarre ideas no matter how incredulous it may be from the opposition. Most data the opposition gets or gleaned from state sources/ statistics is partial, incomplete, half-truths anyway. People ask for ridiculous things from the 'yet-to-be-in-power' opposition when they do not have all the data. The ones they have are highly questionable too. To ask for a budget from the opposition is risible and results in gimmickry. Haven't we been utterly cynical at anything that comes out from the official domain? They have rightfully earned the 'trust-deficit'.

    As for asking if they would be ready..that is an ambiguous inane question. One is never ready, it is a work in progress for governance, you learn along the way as you discover kinks. A vibrant democracy allows that measured concession. Secondly, it is mischievous of the writer to say that the opposition is not ready despite being privy to all the antics of the regime. Is he insane? What bubble are you in or rather what psychedelic drugs are you taking? So much has been exposed and written about the dangers and peril of one party rule. Democracy needs a counter-balance to bring necessary reforms. Opposition misgivings cannot be equated to its unreadiness; it is not an acceptable reason to rule out its highly contributory function to the integrity and meaning to democracy; which has now become a dire necessity to regulate corrupt power in this wayward state. Opposition must rule a term.

    Posted 6 years ago by Arun Paul · Reply