Former Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak has compared the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) cash handout scheme that his toppled Barisan Nasional (BN) Government distributed to the needy to the GST voucher scheme that Singapore’s PAP Government distributes to its citizens.
Najib made the claim in his response to Malaysia’s current Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali’s recent criticism of the BN administration. Indicating that the BR1M was a bribe meant to buy votes, Azmin Ali said that the BN failed to employer lower-income earners from the B40, despite spending a whopping RM8 billion annually for the scheme.
Defending the BR1M scheme and his administration in a Facebook post: “Yesterday in the Dewan Negara, the Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali made a strange statement claiming that BR1M was a bribe and the scheme was evidence that the Barisan Nasional government had failed to help the B40.
“The reason given by Azmin is that the Barisan government had failed to upgrade the B40 group to M40. I believe the minister is confused about economic concepts and his mathematics.”
Clarifying that the purpose of the scheme was to redistribute income and not totally eradicate poverty, Najib continued: “The main purpose of BR1M is that it is a redistribution of income method from the top 60% of the richest group to the bottom 40%, and it is also an economic driver, especially in the rural areas or small towns.
“That is the main purpose, and it is important to reduce the income gap in Malaysia between the rich and the poor, the city and the rural area,” Najib said as he added that Goods and Services Tax (GST) funds that was taken from the black economy and the rich who tried to avoid paying taxes was redistributed to those in the B40 bracket.
Asserting that this sort of “direct cash transfer” method is not new, Najib claimed that the Singapore Government employs a similar method with the GST voucher scheme. He said:
“In 2018, Singapore paid S$1bil to 1.6 million of its citizens earning S$28,000 a year and below, which will average out to S$625 per person. I would like to ask Azmin: Has the Singapore government failed or have they bought and coddled their citizens too as they have a scheme like BR1M?”