BR1M not bribery if given to the poor, says Malay group

PETALING JAYA: The Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) today defended the controversial 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) programme, saying the cash handouts should still be given to the poor.

MTEM CEO Ahmad Yazid Othman said those earning RM4,000 and below a month were still in need of financial aid.

“BR1M is good and strategic. The issue is who are the ones getting it,” he said after a press conference at his office here.

At the moment, he said, the government might feel that there were too many individuals who should not be receiving the aid on the list of recipients.

Because of this, he added, the aid should be given to the poor who earned RM3,800 and below.

When asked if BR1M could be a form of bribery as claimed by Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, Yazid said: “It can be considered as bribery unless it is given to those who really deserve the aid.”

BR1M was introduced in 2012. The amount was increased each year until 2018 when the new government said there would be no further increment.

Under the scheme, those with a monthly household income of RM3,000 and below receive RM1,200 while those earning between RM3,000 and RM4,000 receive RM900.

Single individuals earning RM2,000 and below receive RM450.

A total of RM6.8 billion was allocated for 7.2 million recipients in this year’s budget.

Pakatan Harapan had pledged to continue with the payouts in its manifesto for the 14th general election. It said BR1M would now be known as Bantuan Sara Hidup Malaysia (Cost of Living Aid).

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the people still wanted BR1M as they had become dependent on the government. He said the scheme would be slowly reduced before brought to an eventual halt.

He acknowledged that this would not be a popular decision but said his administration’s goal now was to create as many jobs as possible through domestic and foreign investment.