In response to the comments made by Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali about how the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) was a form of bribery, former Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak said that cash aid for low income earners was a norm in other countries as well. Najib said that based on Azmin’s claim, Singapore’s GST vouchers are a form of bribery as well.
In a post on his Facebook page, Najib said asked Azmin, ‘has Singapore failed (to help the poor) or are they buying and spoiling their citizens as well because they too had a skim like BR1M?’
This was a response to Azmin’s statement during a senate session in which he said that BR1M is a form of bribery and proof that the former Barisan Nasional government failed to help life the Bottom 40 or B40 income group up to the next income tear, M40.
The B40 group is characterised by households with a monthly income of RM3,900 or less while the M40 group are households with an income of RM3,860 to RM8,319 per month.
In his post, ex-PM Najib compared the BR1M aid with that of Singapore’s GST vouchers, saying that the revenue generated from GST were directly channelled to the poor via cash vouchers.
Singapore’s GST voucher scheme was introduced in 2012 to aid low and middle income earners to offset some of their GST expenses. Najib said that Singapore was expected to pay $S1 billion to its 1.6 million citizens who are earning below $S28,000 a year.
Najib also criticised Asmin’s argument that the B40 group was not moving up to M40, saying that a low-income bracket will always continue to exist no matter how many people moved up to the next tier or received pay hikes as the classification of a B40 earner will evolve in tandem with general earning power.
Najib added, “Maybe the minister does not understand. BR1m is not merely a scheme for ridding poverty. For that purpose, there are many other schemes such as welfare programmes and the 1Azam scheme”. Specifically, Najib said that BR1M was about redistributing wealth from the top 60% of high-income earners to the bottom 40% of low income earners which will reduce the pay gap in Malaysia.
He also noted that GST revenues were obtained from the rich and those who avoid taxes, mostly in big cities, and redistributed the rural and suburban B40 communities to revitalize their local economies.