What does Malaysia’s shock #GE14 win mean for you?

Will travelers and expats be affected by Malaysia’s stunning #GE14 triumph? Source: Shutterstock.

AS MALAYSIANS wake up to a new dawn, there’s still one thing left to ponder.

“What does Malaysia’s 14th General Elections results mean for me?”

Malaysia’s 14th General Elections (#GE14) saw the Malaysian opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH) led by 92-year-old PH chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pull off a shocking win.

It was a historic sweep from all aspects.

For starters, it ended the 61-year reign of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, removing them from their grip on power since the country achieved independence in 1957.

PH won 113 seats in a stunning triumph – one more than required for simple majority – in the 222-member parliament. BN only managed to clinch 79.

Supporters celebrate Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the 14th General Elections in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on May 10, 2018. Source: Shutterstock.

Also for the first time ever, BN lost more states than they ever have in history.

Currently, the coalition only has East Malaysian states Sabah and Sarawak, and federal territory Labuan, as well as Perlis, Pahang, and federal territory Putrajaya in Peninsula Malaysia.

BN lost Terengganu to Islamist political party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS).

What you need to know about Kelantan and Terengganu

Located in the northeast of Peninsula Malaysia, Kelantan is home to royal palaces like the wooden Istana Jahar and Balai Getam Guri village, known for its handicrafts, including silverware, batik and embroidery.

Terengganu, on the other hand, has major tourist attractions such its capital Kuala Terengganu, Islamic Heritage Park, and Tasik Kenyir. It also boasts many Malay cultural influences such as kite-flying contests, top-spinning contests, traditional arts and crafts such as batik and songket.

Batik is an intricate technique of wax-resist dyeing which originated from Indonesia. Source: Shutterstock.

Both states are homes to picture perfect beaches that are among the least developed in Malaysia, which makes them perfect for a relaxing and memorable holiday.

Kelantan has Pantai Cahaya Bulan, Pantai Seri Tujuh, Pantai Sabak, Pantai Irama, and Pantai Bisikan Bayu.

Terengganu has offshore islands such as Pulau Redang, Pulau Lang Tengah, Pulau Kapas, and Pulau Perhentian.

Despite the appeal of the relatively rural and tranquil atmosphere, which appeals to beach bums, snorkelers, and divers, holiday makers will need to keep the state’s religious authority’s dress code law which is in line with Islamic religious teachings in mind.

The pristine waters of Pulau Lang Tengah in Terengganu, Malaysia. Source: Shutterstock.

In April 2018, The Star reported that over 20 notices and summonses have been issued against women for the way they were dressed in an operation dubbed Ops Sopan by the Kelantan Islamic Affairs Department (JAHEAIK) and the Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB).

Although the Kelantan Islamic religious department (JAIK) has previously said the dress code was only for Muslims, travelers and expats in Malaysia will need to keep the sensitivities in mind when visiting the state.

Essentially, this means no overly revealing clothing while out and about town or at the beach.

Dress modestly when out and about in Kelantan or Terengganu. Source: Shutterstock.

The same should be applied for Terengganu, considering it will be governed by PAS following #GE14.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) abolition

One of the 10 things that PH had promised to do within 100 days of forming federal government is to abolish the BN-implemented Goods and Services Tax (GST).

In 2013, during the government reading of the annual budget, former Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a GST of six percent beginning April 1, 2015.

GST is a value added tax at each level in the supply chain, from production to consumer. Hence, it increases the cost of goods and the final tax burden will ultimately will be borne by the consumer.

Currently, more than 150 countries in the world use GST as a form of tax collection. Source: Shutterstock.

The compulsory tax was applied to everything except essential foodstuff such as fresh foods, water, petrol, and electricity, as well as some services (health, education, transport, finance).

For example, a nice, medium rare steak dinner at a fancy restaurant priced at RM120 before GST can set you back RM127.20 (RM120 plus RM7.20).

What if you’d also like to have a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with that, say RM40 per glass?

Now add the restaurant’s 10 percent service charge into the mix on the bill.

The GST implementation is believed to be one of the influencing factors of the rising cost of goods. Source: Shutterstock.

Needless to say, the highly unpopular decision was met with objections and a cold reception, as it greatly impacted businesses and communities. Also, GST is basically collecting six percent off the total expenditure on behalf of the government.

During #GE14 11-day campaign period, PH used the GST as one of the key talking points. In their manifesto, the alliance promised to minimize the percentage of GST to zero within 100 days.

And in its place, PH will reinstate the Sales and Services Tax (SST), a non-mandatory single stage of consumption tax.

For Malaysians and travelers and expats in Malaysia, this could potentially mean a lower cost in goods and services, and a lower cost of living.

The abolition of the GST could mean a lower cost of living. Source: Shutterstock.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to announce the country’s new Cabinet in the coming days.

It is not known as of yet who Malaysia’s new Minister of Tourism will be or what his/her plans for Malaysia are.