The Malaysian government has acknowledged that they are contemplating a sugar tax on beverages after the country’s diabetes rates continue to rise. The Malaysian PM Tun Dr Mahatir Mohamad said that he acknowledged the country’s high consumption of sugary products was becoming a problem.
“The diabetes rates in Malaysia are very high because we take too much sugar. We find people drinking these bottled drinks, one every day, six or seven a week. It's not necessary. These bottled drinks have a lot of sugar,” said Mahathir.
While the state tax is only being considered on beverages high in sugar, some academics are calling for the charge to be applied on all sugary products. University Putra Malaysia Putra Business School senior lecturer, Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul, has suggested that the Malaysian government doesn’t just stop at beverages but instead tax all sugary products.
“Are sodas really the main contributor towards diabetes in Malaysia, or is it sugar? Teh Tarik, for example, also uses a lot of sugar,” said Abdul.
While the Malaysian Dental Association is thrilled with the idea, announcing that it would save millions of teeth.
The option of a sugar tax was made public around the same time that the Malaysian government announced that the price of sugar was expected to fall by US$0.024 (RM 0.10) per kilo as of September 1.
The Philippines and India have both already introduced sugar taxes while Indonesia is also considering the implementation of the tax. Hong Kong has instead chosen to implement a better beverage and food labelling system as an alternative to introducing a sugar tax. The government has, however, stated that if the new labelling doesn’t see any changes to sugar consumption a fee may be applied.