PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was the hardest decision he ever had to make since he became prime minister in 2009.
"Introducing GST was one of the hardest decisions I have made. I knew that it would lead to increases in the prices of some goods and services, and that it would be painful for some Malaysians," Najib said in a statement on Monday (May 7).
However, he said that with GST, the country was made fiscally independent and stable without needing to be overly-reliant on the price of oil.
"This is something that was out of our hands and any downturn in the oil price, as we experienced a few years ago, could without intervention have led to a serious recession that would hit the people hard," he said.
He assured Malaysians that although there was some "short-term pain", the rewards are over the long term and will be felt in the years to come.
Najib added that the money from GST was channelled directly to Malaysians in "carefully targeted programmes" to ensure that the money went to those that needed it the most, rather than through blanket subsides that even benefited billionaires.
He also said since being premier, he had created 2.7 million jobs, in addition to attaining an increase of Gross National Income of over 50%.
Najib pointed out that Barisan Nasional and the government have also helped struggling Malaysians to get by with programmes such as 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M), training for young people, credit for micro entrepreneurs and assistance for women and rural communities.
"You can believe our promises for the future, such as increasing the minimum wage to RM1,500 and creating three million new jobs, because we have delivered on our promises in the past," he said.
Najib added that he was proud to serve the Felda settlers just as his father, the second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussien, had done for them before.
Najib also criticised the Opposition's threat to cancel the East Coast Rail Link, which he said will create 86,000 jobs.
He also lamented at the Opposition's scare mongering tactics, claiming that the nation was selling its sovereignty to China.
Najib called on Malaysians not be fooled by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's allegations of sabotage and attempted assassination.
"A former dictator, as he has called himself, does not change. He has apologised sincerely for nothing. The truth is he is trying to use his former allies, just as they are trying to use him," he said.
He also questioned whether DAP would allow Dr Mahathir to be prime minister if the Opposition was voted into power, as the Pakatan Harapan chairman had previously jailed many of its leaders.
He also claimed DAP was deceiving the people by hiding their leaders behind Malays.
Najib added that the Opposition's only reason for coming together was to "selfishly gain power" for themselves.