The folly of comparing Malaysia with other countries

malaysiaBy TK Chua

For goodness sake, can we stop comparing Malaysia with other countries?

Why are we bothered if other countries are better or worse off than Malaysia? If they are better, congratulations and good luck to them. May be their leaders deserve another term in office with even higher pay and perks. If they are worse off, it is their problem, not ours. They have to figure a way out of their quagmire.

As Malaysians, we are interested only in our own well being based on the resources and talents we possess. We just want to know how this country is governed and how our resources are managed, not elsewhere.

First, why keep telling us other countries too are imposing GST. For all we care, they can tax their people to high heaven if they so wish.

What we Malaysians want to know is while our GST rate is at 6%, why is the actual impact on prices much higher than 6%? Did we apply the GST correctly? Is it really a value-added tax? It appears to me 6% is being levied across the board at every level of production. This is not value-added tax to me.

I hope we can all see the baloney here – most of us get only 3% saving rate and less than 6% pay rise (some not at all) and yet we are paying almost everything at 6% more, including medication and banking services. Sometimes a company does not even make 6% profit, and yet it has to pay everything at 6% more.

Second, please don’t tell us we are better off than Somalia or any other country. Are we supposed to feel better if we are better than nincompoops?

We don’t care how much a litre of petrol is in UK or Saudi Arabia, but we want to know why a kilogramme of bitter gourd is now RM11.00, a kilogramme of ikan kembong (small ones) is RM17.00, and a kilogramme of sotong (small ones again) is RM30.00? I am not talking about white pomfret or Kobe beef here, so please don’t accuse me of over indulgence.

Third, we don’t care why children of many countries have only rudimentary education. We just want to know why our education system is churning out uncompetitive and unemployable graduates despite the huge amount of money thrown into it every year.

Fourth, we don’t care which country is most corrupt. What difference would it make? Are we supposed to feel happier if we are second or third most corrupt? Look, we just want to know how and where the resources of this country are being used for the benefit of the people.

Fifth, why are we fixated with global competitive rankings published each year? What difference would it make if Malaysia is ranked 10 and not 20? Why do we even bother to compare when we are unable to export more and import less despite our ringgit depreciating by more than 30% in recent times? How do we explain our depleting reserves despite the hunky dory news we hear every day? Mainstream economists who keep saying weak currency is good for exports and the economy must now come forward to give us a proper explanation.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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