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Slap windfall tax on rubberglove maker

By Zaidi Isham Ismail


COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought a lot of suffering for humanity all over the world. Apart from contracting the disease, populations the world over have lost their jobs and livelihoods.

However, amid all the tribulations, a specialised group of companies continue to ride over the pandemic. They are the rubber glovemakers from Malaysia.

At a time when some portions of the rakyat is suffering, the rubber glove companies smile to the bank. Bloomberg reported that two rubberglove owners have turned billionaires overnight.

They are Top Glove Berhad's founder Tan Sri Dr Lim Chee Wai and Supermax Corp Bhd's owner Datuk Seri Stanley Thai.

                                          LIM CHEE WAI
                                            STANLEY THAI

They are followed by owners of other rubber glove conpanies such as Hartalega, Kossan, Careplus Group, Comfort Gloves, Rubberex and others.

This brings this question to mind. Should the rubber glove makers be slapped with the windfall tax?

An industry observer at the National Association of Rubber Smallholders said rubber prices as well as crude palm oil have been depressed for the longest time.

"Everybody knows that the money is in the production of rubber-based products such as condoms and rubber gloves.

There isn't much money to be made from selling latex.

"Thus it is only proper that the rubber glove companies give back a little to the poor rubber tappers," said the observer.

While COVID-19 has been a bane for many, it has been a blessing for the glove companies.

On Bursa Malaysia, Top Glove had already overtaken Public Bank to become the second most valuable stock on the stock just behind Maybank.

Hartalega is close behind Public Bank and will take third position in a matter of time.

This windfall tax is not something new. The government had imposed before such a tax on palm oil companies circa 2001 when crude palm oil reached dizzying heights of more than RM4,000 a tonne.

The windfall tax is not to victimise the rubber glove makers.

The windfall tax is an avenue for the rubber glove sector to give back to the rakyat.

The rubber glove makers cannot make their products if they don't have the essential raw material which is latex.

Latex is tapped from the rubber trees by the smallholders who ironically earn a paltry sum of money for their latex.

Smallholders often have to wake up as early as 4am to do the backbreaking work to feed their families to milk the latex out of the rubber trees.

However, to Top Glove's credit, the company owns a small rubber estate of its own to source part of the latex which it needs.

But what about the other rubberglove makers? Do they play their part in helping the hand which feeds them?

These are extraordinary times and extraordinary measures such as the windfall tax should be carried out.

It is not always that rubber glove companies register stratospheric earnings.

The windfall tax can be channelled by the government back to the rakyat as well as to help the smallholders to wade through the challenging times.

It's time for the new billionaires to feed the hands that have been feeding them all this while - which are the poor rubber tappers.

It's time for the rubber glove makers to give back to the rakyat. -


The writer is former New Straits Times assistant business editor