KUALA LUMPUR, DEC 28: The annual Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) handout is no substitute for sound economic policy for the bottom-60, a DAP lawmaker today said.
DAP Political Education director Liew Chin Tong in a statement said, economic policies in Malaysia should anchor on enriching the bottom 60% of the population, through which these policies should generate new impetus for the overall economy as well.
He said this in response to the recent furore by Umno ministers over remarks by former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, who called the BR1M a “bribe.”
“Umno ministers and big shots seems to think that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is making a grave mistake in his comment on BR1M as a “bribe” and therefore pounced on him.
“Their reasoning is probably that BR1M recipients would be grateful to Prime Minister Najib Razak and the Barisan Nasional government for the handouts and therefore would be upset if Mahathir criticises BR1M,” Liew said.
Several Umno leaders had questioned Mahathir’s motives behind the remark, and insisted that the BR1M was not a bribe.
“Many ordinary Malaysians now share the following viewpoints on BR1M, that first, BR1M is public money so they will still take it but not necessarily thanking Najib, second, that what BR1M gives is taken away by the effect of GST and increased prices of goods since 2015, and third, that BR1M is no substitute for decent jobs and decent pay that ordinary Malaysians hope the government can deliver through sound economic policies.
“Decent jobs with decent pay are hard to find these days. Deep in their hearts, most Malaysians want dignified jobs and decent pay, not handouts. Although they will still take whatever the government gives,” he said.
Liew said, the Pakatan Rakyat (as the opposition coalition was called at the time BR1M was announced in 2011) at the time had proposed broad packages for economic reforms to uplift the bottom 60%.
“The packages were based on income and productivity, where a conducive policy setting for a virtuous cycle of higher productivity (through automate and upgrading), better skills and higher wage to take hold; social spending, where the government has the responsibility to do three things well, naming housing, public transportation and healthcare; and to dismantle monopolies and oligopolies on basic necessities such as sugar and rice.
“In 2011, when the then Pakatan Rakyat Policy Committee mooted the above economic policy packages to boost the income and disposable income of the bottom 60%, Najib responded with BR1M.
“Electorally, I must admit that BR1M and the “cash is king” idea worked for UMNO – Barisan Nasional in 2013 general election. But with jobs hard to come by, increased cost of living, GST and other challenges, BR1M’s political effectiveness for Najib is fading,” he said.
“It’s now time to remind all Malaysians, BR1M recipients included, that handouts are no substitute for genuine, holistic thoughtful economic policies. To be more precise, handouts can never be a substitute for dignified jobs with decent pay. And I am confident that Malaysians know this,” he added. – The Rocket