Najib Razak and Lim Guan Eng are flaming each other online over Malaysia’s Sales and Services Tax (SST)

Ex-prime minister Najib Razak has criticised SST.
Reuters

After former prime minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took to Facebook to complain about the introduction of the Sales and Services Tax (SST), Malaysia’s Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has hit back.

Najib posted on his Twitter account on Sunday (Sept 9) a picture of a receipt for ‘kuih pau’ or steamed buns, saying:

“Stopped at Pau Yik Mun restaurant, Tg (Tanjung) Malim to buy pau. Clearly SST is imposed even though this shop is mid-sized! Pau shop also subject to SST”.

Implemented on September 1, SST is set at either 5 or 10 per cent for sale of goods and 6 per cent for services. It replaced GST, which Najib’s government introduced, after the Sales Tax Bill 2018 and Service Tax Bill 2018 which were passed in Parliament in August.

Lim, who most recently was acquitted of corruption charges, has since responded to Najib’s critique of the SST.

“I’m astonished, when he (Najib) charged GST last time, he didn’t complain. At that time (GST) 6 per cent, now also 6 per cent, why at that time he didn’t complain but is complaining now.

“We hope the former premier don’t become a hero now. When he imposed GST at 6 per cent (it) was far worse. Now (with SST), we are being quite flexible compared to before. Apparently, only now he realised, go to the shop must pay 6 per cent, before this, he was unaware all shops charge 6 per cent”, Lim said, in a Bernama report.

Lim also added that the implementation of SST was different from GST as only one-third of items were subject to SST compared with GST, which was imposed on all goods and services.

He explained that SST was imposed only on restaurants with an annual turnover or threshold value of RM$1.5 million (US$360,000) and SST exemption involves rental of small stalls and sale of cigarettes to food and beverage shop operators.

He said: “Not like GST, everything is taxed. It’s a clean sweep tax. You carry out business, have to pay tax, don’t do business, also pay tax, poor people also have to pay (GST).”

Najib has continued the feud with Lim, posting a response and explaining that Lim “likes being angry” at him and that through his calculations, the tax imposed by SST is higher than what GST was previously: