Nik Aziz Nik Mat's analogy may be harsh but he has spoken the truth: BR1M is far from the uthopian aid the BN government makes it out to be.
The prime minister and his deputy are livid with their nemesis, a spiritual adviser who dared criticise the federal government’s one-off cash handout scheme, Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BRIM) or 1Malaysia People’s Aid.
BR1M debuted last year, with the federal government budgeting RM2.6 billion to be given out to the country’s 4.35 million deserving homes whose monthly income is RM3,000 or less.
Pleased with the rakyat’s applause, Barisan Nasional decided to take the safest way out in winning the people’s trust by playing the one and only game it knows best – money politics – and decided to continue the BR1M assistance.
So in January 2013, it was BR1M 2.0, with RM500 – not a sen more – making its way to the recipients.
But for the 82-year-old Tok Guru, as Nik Aziz Nik Mat, is fondly called, the never-ending BR1M episodes got him thinking and what happened next left BN fuming.
Nik Aziz, who is also Kelantan Menteri Besar, apparently said that while the granting of BR1M had received good response, he likened the recipients as “equal to chicken and cattle that would come if the people give these animals the food they liked”.
That was enough to hurt BN’s big ego, with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his number two Muhyiddin Yassin taking Nik Aziz to task for “insulting” BR1M recipients.
Nik Aziz’s analogy may be harsh but he has spoken the truth: BR1M is far from the uthopian aid the BN government makes it out to be.
There have been cases where recipients of this assistance have failed to put the money to good use. There were also cases where recipients were made to pledge their loyalty to Najib and Muhyiddin.
Is this how the federal government measures its commitment to the rakyat by handing out a mere RM500 all for the sake of winning the coming general election?
As “noble” an effort as it is being made out to be, BR1M is really a political weapon used by Najib to dash ahead of the opposition alliance of Pakatan Rakyat which came out tops in the 2008 general election.
Truth hurts BN
The one-off BR1M is BN’s propaganda to win the people’s sympathy and understanding of the challenges the ruling party faces in administering the country.
Why the need for BR1M when a similar aid could be provided by the Women, Family and Community Development via the Social Welfare Department?
A meagre RM500 dished out to ease the rakyat’s financial burden is hardly helpful, given the rising cost of living. How far would RM500 help bring cheers to a family of two or three school-going children?
And still Muhyiddin insists that BR1M recipients were identifed by the government as those who truly needed the assistance.
What is more astonishing is that Muhyiddin claimed that BR1M could change the lives of the recipients for a more comfortable future.
Just how can BR1M give its recipients a cosy future when some of the candidates squandered away the money on fancy items?
Muhyiddin claims that Nik Aziz has insulted the recipients; on the contrary, it is Muhyiddin who is going about lying to the rakyat about the “wonders” of BR1M.
Self-praise a disgrace
Had the BN government been honest in wanting to relieve the people of their financial worries, the amount given out would have been double in tandem with the high cost of living.
But instead BN decided to dole out “peanuts” and used the RM500 aid scheme to embark on a campaign to boast of its generosity.
Does Muhyiddin not know that all faiths including Islam loathe self-aggrandizement?
Nevertheless, BN has made both editions of BR1M its “triumph card” to confirm victory in the coming 13th general election.
If the BN government sincerely cares for the people, why does BR1M and the other cash and kind incentives only appear when the national election is around the corner?
Why do the people become important to BN when the time to harness votes draws closer?
Does the fault not lie with BN for always having taken the rakyat for granted, be it in the form of corruption, cronyism, nepotism and gutter politicking?
Instead of lambasting Nik Aziz, the BN leadership should as the Malays say “tepuk dada tanya selera” (ask oneself what one really wants) to find out who the real culpit is, that is, if BN has the courage to fact the truth.
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.