The rally saw more than 120 non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil societies coming together to voice out their grievances against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government
By Melissa Goh, Malaysia Bureau Chief, Channel NewsAsia
POSTED: 01 May 2015 22:33
UPDATED: 01 May 2015 22:34
KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of Malaysians took to the streets of Malaysia’s capital city on May Day (May 1), to demand the scrapping of the newly implemented goods and services tax (GST), which they said has contributed to rising cost of living.
The rally saw more than 120 non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil societies coming together to voice out their grievances against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government.
Thousands of protestors clad in red shirts converged right below the iconic Kuala Lumpur twin towers during a the traditional May Day rally. Among them were representatives from worker and student unions, civil societies – such as electoral reform group Bersih and other human rights bodies – as well as the country’s indigenous minorities.
They want the government to scrap the hugely unpopular 6 per cent GST that came in to force on Apr 1.
The broad based GST was supposed to replace the Sales and Services Tax, but its complicated roll-out and confusing lists of more than 100 exempted and zero rated items have led many to blame it for the rising cost of living in the country.
Said social activist Kua Kia Soong: “On the zero rated list – there are so many of it, it makes no sense that there are so many luxury goods, like lobsters and all that are exempted from GST. It makes a farce of GST.”
Apart from GST, protestors are also urging the government to come clean on the massive debt chalked up by state investment fund, 1MDB, which Prime Minister Najib has promised a full and thorough investigation by the Auditor General.
Prominent rights activist Ambiga Sreenevasan also warned that cabinet ministers who rallied behind Prime Minister Najib over the issue of 1MDB should equally be held responsible.
“The 1MDB issue is not just the responsibility of the Prime Minister,” she said. “The whole cabinet has stood behind the PM on that, so as far as I am concerned, if that goes pear-shaped, the entire cabinet should step down.”
She has since been summoned by police in connection to the rally held.
However, not many protestors – especially the younger generation – know about the 1MDB scandal, where money was allegedly siphoned off.
While not many protestors understand the issue of 1MDB, everyone at the rally agreed that the rising costs are hurting their wallets directly.