PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A government must not be afraid to make unpopular decisions if it benefits the country in the long run, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Monday.
Datuk Seri Najib said that while policies like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) may not be popular, the decision to implement the tax system will benefit Malaysia.
"We must be confident that the policies we introduce will bear fruit. Do not be afraid to make decisions that are unpopular. It may not show its results in the short term, but it will in the long run," Najib told staff at his department's monthly assembly in Putrajaya on Monday.
Najib has been under pressure amid unhappiness over the recently implemented goods and services tax (GST) and public criticism of his leadership by former premier Tun Mahathir Mohamad.
The government had introduced the GST on April 1, saying part of it would be channelled back to the poor through increased cash handouts, a move Mahathir has dismissed as ineffective vote-buying.
Defending the move to implement the GST on Monday, Najib said the tax was necessary in order for the country to raise its income
"We all know we must find ways to increase the country's income, that's why we introduced the GST, even though it is not popular," he said. "When our income has increased, we will be able to use it to reduce the people's burdens," he added.
Mahathir has in recent weeks also stepped up his attacks on Najib, calling on Najib to step down over his handling of the debt-laden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Najib on Sunday lashed back at Mahathir, as he vowed to stand firm.
He said Mahathir had remained prime minister and president of ruling party Umno for 23 years because the party had given him the full support no matter what crisis hit his administration.
"When he (Mahathir) was the prime minister, we fully supported him. Now he is not the prime minister, so return the supportl. Even if (he) cannot support, don't make too much noise and disrupt the party," Najib said.