The best way to fix the economy and help the people who are now facing rising cost of living is to get rid of corruption, said former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
He said while the recent fuel subsidy cuts were necessary given the country’s “dire” economic position, such measures hurt the rakyat who were already struggling with enormous household debts.
“Corruption is the biggest problem. If we can get rid of some or most then (the problem) is resolved.
“Projects are too expensive and the costs are passed on to consumers and finally the people at the bottom have to bear the additional cost,” he said.
He said that one quick way to address the graft problem is to make it mandatory for ministers and ex-ministers like himself to declare their assets.
“Make everybody declare their assets. See what we have and don’t have and let the people decide as we belong to the people,” he added.
‘Cut industry subsidy’
Razaleigh also urged the government to “immediately cut” subsidy for industry, including that of independent power producers.
“It should not be tolerated any longer, and can help prevent electricity tariff hikes which are on the shoulders of the consumers,” he said.
“Look into a (subsidy) rationalisation approach where the people will not be burdened.”
The Gua Musang MP said that the subsidy cuts, especially for diesel, will hurt wage earners the hardest as it has already sparked an escalation of consumer goods prices.
“Even fish is expensive now!” he said, adding that Malaysia is in a bad place now compared to a “comfortable” position 30 years ago.
His position on the subsidy cuts matches that of Pakatan Rakyat, which has long urged the scaling back of industry subsidy, especially to independent power producers.
Such issues are likely to be part of the agenda for the bi-partisan dialogue on national issues recently proposed by Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Asked about the proposal, which has been rubbished by several BN leaders, Razaleigh said: “Any dialogue is useful. Don’t think of who wins or who loses because it will benefit the people, especially the poor.”