I don't care very much about who are the top 10 or 20 richest Malaysians. What do I care if they are fabulously wealthy. I find it pathetic that many people seem to be thrilled reading the list of names that was published in the media recently as if these people's successes were also their own successes.
What I care about is who are the highest tax contributors in the country. This is a better guide for anyone in Malaysia to gauge whether a person deserves our due respect. What I hate to find out is how many wealthy people in the country continually avoid paying their personal income taxes until it accumulates to a huge amount.
There was one such individual who was reported to have owed the income tax department more than RM40 million, yet he is not charged, convicted and punished.
At the same time, I read in the media of how an American who had won the first prize of US$1 million on a reality television programme but who failed to pay taxes on his winnings. And within weeks, he was charged, convicted and was fined US$600,000.
This is what our income tax department ought to do instead of just targeting those who barely earn enough to sustain themselves. Go after the wealthy who are quietly hiding and not paying their income taxes.
I am not an expert in economics and on the taxation laws in the country but I wonder just how much does a person whose wealth is said to have increased by more than 44% (according to that recent 10 richest Malaysians list) has to pay the income tax department.
I hope in future, if there is a need for any list, it will be the list of those who have paid the most in income taxes. Because this is what matters the most to all Malaysians. It is a question of how much the country benefits from them and not how much they have benefitted from the country.