- POSTED: 16 Dec 2013 23:14
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The mayor of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, Ahmad Phesal Talib, has come under fire for allegedly hiking property assessment rates by up to five times.
KUALA LUMPUR: The mayor of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, Ahmad Phesal Talib, has come under fire for allegedly hiking property assessment rates by up to five times.
Hundreds of angry city folk thronged the mayor's office to register their complaints and demanded to see him to protest against the controversial hike.
The increase in property assessment rates is adding to the burden of rising costs for the average citizen.
Some half a million property owners are said to have received notices asking them to pay up taxes by January 1, based on a new rate that is much higher as a result of revised rental valuations.
Many of them are facing taxes that cost four to five times more.
One said: "If it is up slightly, we can still accept, but it suddenly went up so much, how can we pay? "
Indeed, many city folk are finding it hard to cope with rising prices following fuel price increases, the removal of sugar subsidies and imminent electricity and toll rate hikes.
Michael Anthony, a KL resident, said: "The people can't be expected to bear with all these increases. If our salaries increase, okay, we are fine with it, but our incomes are not increasing, so where are we going to get the income from? Don't tell me (you will) ask the people to go to the streets to do crime and rob?"
Several opposition members of parliament were at the city hall to help their constituents file complaints before the deadline expires on Tuesday.
Many also lashed out at the government for burdening the people now that the general election is over.
Tian Chua, vice president of PKR, said: "KL people are at the frontline of inflationary pressures -- all the subsidy cuts as well as rate increases, residents in KL are the first to suffer."
"People are expecting a slight increase of 10 or 15 per cent, but to have (the increase) double and triple and some up by 300 per cent, that's totally unacceptable."
Nurul Izzah, Lembah Pantai MP, said: "It's going to be a punishing year, it's going to be a difficult year with inflation set to rise, it’s going to be a shock for Malaysians.
“They have to brace themselves, and I cannot forgive the government for allowing this to happen without prior readiness by not taking into account that wages have been stagnant, (and) majority of the urban poor in KL are going to feel the heat.”
Police kept a close watch and avoided any violent clashes with protesters.
But they maintained that the gathering was illegal as organisers did not serve a 10-day advance notice that is stipulated under the Peaceful Assembly act.
ACP Zainudin Ahmad, Dang Wangi police chief, said: "Yes, we will take action after we investigate first."
While city folks are bracing for a tough year ahead with higher inflation and so on, the Kuala Lumpur city hall has argued that it is the first rate hike in 21 years, and the additional funding is necessary to improve the infrastructure and service in the city.
Nevertheless, the city hall has promised to look into property owners’ complaints and grievances before making a final decision on the rate hikes.