By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Nov 30: Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong today commented that Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali is “losing touch with the ground”.
This was because the latter, in a local English daily published two days ago (Nov 28), had lashed out at Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen, branding him “boyish and complaining all the time”.
Yong told a press conference this afternoon that her colleague Chong had, in fact, done his job properly and had managed to ensure more prices of goods are lower under the Sales and Service Tax (SST) compared to the previous Goods and Services Tax (GST), and Sharifah was just hurling baseless statements.
“Majority of the price of goods has gone down, that is the fact. It’s just that she herself (Sharifah) doesn’t wish to accept the fact, and that shows she has lost touch with the ground and only talk based on hearsay or make allegations based on hearsay or untruths.
“And of course I can understand that as an assistant minister and receiving a salary of about RM21,000 a month basic, excluding all her perks, of course, she would not be that sensitive to the prices of goods. That I can understand.
“But as an assistant minister herself, I urge her to go to ground and study the price of goods before making any statements on this issue,” said Yong.
In the article in the daily, Sharifah directed her advice at Chong by saying: “Grow up. Don’t be too boyish complaining all the time. We don’t have time for this nonsense. We have to build the country and Sarawak.
Do your job now. If there are real issues, go and see the Chief Minister. Be like other PH (Pakatan Harapan) ministers from Peninsular Malaysia in meeting the Chief Minister if they have real issues to be solved.”
She also reminded Chong that PH had been promising the people to lower the cost of living, and had blamed the GST for contributing to the problem.
“GST has been abolished, but housewives are telling me the price of necessities are going up, rice price has gone up, the price of school shoes has gone up and many women are complaining that the price of facial cream they are using has also gone up. I am sure the prices of many other goods have also gone up. What is happening?
“PH says the price will go down with the abolishment of GST. Chong’s task is to talk to the traders, find out what is happening. Why do they increase the prices of goods? Talk to the lower income group and ask them about the (high) price of goods.
“I have my own job, and I am still doing it, and we are now seeing that our eroded rights have slowly come back. We battle Petronas in court, we imposed a sales tax on petroleum products. We monitor federal projects closely. These are part of my job. I do it. If Chong does not do his, he will fail and will be dropped from the cabinet,” said Sharifah.
Meanwhile, Yong admitted that there were some businesses or merchants that had marked up the prices of goods on the high side.
As such, she advised consumers to be smarter and only go to businesses and merchants that sell their goods at reasonable prices.
“You can choose and have the right to patron those supermarkets if you are smart — one were to be a smart consumer,” she said.
Yong pointed out that under the SST, about 5,000 goods were exempted from the tax compared to about 500 items under the GST.
“If we look at the revenue from SST compared to GST, during GST time annually our government collected about RM43 billion, but now under SST, revenue income is estimated to be around RM22 billion (annually). So, in actual fact, there are about half of the amount decreased in revenue,” she said. — DayakDaily