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Mahathir

Peter Lee

It's not fake news. it's false conversations and it's satire.

As California's San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passes a law to ban the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and other agencies operating within the city. The news reached an incredulous Malaysian Transport Minister who is in the process of implementing a low-tech solution - blacked out car windows through which will defeat all visual surveillance methods.

Editorial Staff

Countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America maintain a tight grip on the media with systems of favours, licensing, enforcement, harassment, imprisonment and even death of those who write or, even, research stories that may criticise incumbent authorities. Malaysia has for decades been one of the countries with a raft of laws, perniciously applied, to prevent the publication of anything that tends to show the government or incumbent politicians or party in a bad light or, worse, promote genuine discourse and democracy. Three weeks ago, democracy won anyway with a remarkable election and media freedom - with appropriate responsibility - has arrived.

As the euphoria of the overturning of a much disliked government wanes, there are several important matters to deal with.

Perhaps the most difficult will be the question of corruption which has been endemic and systemic for many years.

Strangely, the one person who might be credited with kick-starting the widespread rejection of corruption might be the one person who is first amongst those whose conduct will be open to question.

There are few things about Malaysia's Najib government that have caused as much anger amongst the populace as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax ("GST") which is, in fact, a form of Value Added Tax. It was an election promise that Mahathir's coalition would repeal it and reinstate the old Sales Tax. Even during a press conference yesterday, before he was sworn in, Mahathir was asked to confirm that the promise would be kept and he did. Popular though such a policy would be, it is a horribly retrograde step that will cost the country, and businesses, dear. He should revise GST, which was not, in some detail, properly thought through, but he should not reverse its imposition.

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