Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has called on the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) to investigate individuals or companies which engage in tax evasion, saying taxes must be paid by those eligible.
Anwar, when officiating the 27th Revenue Day last night, said this was to ensure that those who are obliged to pay income tax do not evade or escape legal claims.
"I deliberately express this to give encouragement to such efforts, that as long as I am entrusted to lead the government, I want these individuals, whether they are petty traders or the wealthy, to abide by the law and not evade paying income tax.
"I am saying this so that everyone, whether they are my acquaintances or not, my supporters or not – taxes must be paid and LHDN must search and look for the tricks used (to avoid paying taxes)," he said.
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said if these efforts could be implemented well, the country's revenue would continue to increase and be even better than in previous years.
During his time as finance minister in the 1990s, he said, the Inland Revenue Department had faced challenges in collecting taxes, especially from public figures including VVIPs who refused to pay taxes.
"I said it was a bit strange, a sovereign independent country with rules and laws, and yet the super rich refused to pay (taxes).
"So I issued a statement for the Inland Revenue Department at that time, saying that I was on the side of the officers of the department, to ensure that those who were obliged to pay taxes did so without negligence.
"I was satisfied that, even though I faced difficulties because I had issued such a warning, after that, the performance of the department greatly improved. Most of the people who previously refused (to pay taxes) finally complied with the rules," he said.
He added that LHDN needed to strengthen its role and responsibility so that the performance of national revenue collection continued to improve.
He also reminded LHDN staff not to fall into corrupt practices, in order to protect the agency's image.