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Taxing The Chinese

Few years ago, former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir said the Chinese is an important taxpayer (group) in the country. Undoubtedly, he is right as Chinese pay the most tax. In fact, as long as 100 years ago, Chinese were the main taxpayers.

On 10 Sept 1877, someone suggested in the Perak State Council that men aged between 15 and 55 must pay one dollar and fifty cents as “Asil Klamin. Kapitans Chan Ah Jim and Chung Keng Kwee argued that since the Chinese major taxpayers, should be exempted from paying the “Asil Klamin.

Later on 11 July 1885, the Perak State Council decided to exempt the Chinese from paying the annual Hospital Dollar Tax effective January 1886. This tax raked in $48,675 to the state’s coffers. Captain Chung suggested the Council increase the opium tax from $6 to $7. Through this tax move , the state’s tax revenue can be increased by another $45,000) and Chung's idea was adopted..

This shows that Chinese are major taxpayers right from the early days. Some in the past have accused the Chinese of repatriating their profits back to China and thus, did not contribute to the country. This is not only untrue but also irresponsible.

"The main reason the British government cancelled the tax could be because the Chinese did not seek treatment at government hospitals. Chinese do not believe in western medicine. "

Kapitan Chung’s idea of scrapping the Hospital Tax and compensate it by increased taxation on opium, was unwise. As many Chinese were opium addicts, his suggestion only led to worsening the welfare of the Chinese. No one knows why made such a proposal.

Why would the British Government give tax exemption to the Chinese? Well, it is difficult to answer. Let's make a bold assumption. If I'm wrong, please correct me!

The main reason the British government cancelled the tax could be because the Chinese did not seek treatment at government hospitals. Chinese do not believe in western medicine. They think western doctors do not understand the concept of “yin-yang” and the treatment of Chinese diseases. Therefore, in the early days, most Chinese migrants refused to go to government hospitals for treatment. They would prefer to consult Chinese medicine practitioners. They feel Chinese medicine is the best.

Some of the older generation still do not believe in western medicine. You may have heard of a disease called “Mao Dan” whose symptom is unceasing fever. Traditionally, such patients cannot bathe nor eat food made of rice. The patients also need to scrub their bodies with cooked egg to pull out the “Mao Dan” in their bodies in an unventilated room. However, western medicine does not subscribe to this. Western doctors would give medicine and injections to the patients. Some believe western is wrong and can lead to fatalities. Therefore, they resist western medical treatment.

More than 100 years ago, the British brought some Chinese from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom. They found that the Chinese did not go to government hospitals for medical treatment at all, while the immigrants from India and African were frequent visitors of the hospitals. ? Were the Chinese so fit they did not fall ill?

In fact, there are two reasons why Chinese did not go to government hospitals. Firstly, they cannot speak English well. Secondly, they did not believe in western medicine and would prefer Chinese medicine. As the result, the British chose to use more Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong. Through this the country could save a huge amount on medical expenses.

I think the most probable reason the British government gave tax exemption to the Chinese because Chinese do not understand English and Malay and thus have difficulties in communicating with the medical staffs. They also did not believe in western medicine and did not want to seek western medical treatment at government hospitals. (Sin Chew Daily)

MySinchew 2007.10.29



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