'Set up special panel to vet BR1M recipients' : Rais Yatim

Nor Akmar Samudin

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to set up a special panel to identify those who truly qualify for the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M).

Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, who is the former socio-cultural advisor to the government, said it would not be fair to label BR1M as a bribe to gain political support for certain quarters.

“The aid is not a bribe. I don’t think (prime minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meant it that way.

“For the segment of society which are unable to work due to disabilities, jobless or hit by unfortunate circumstances, they do deserve government aid.

“However, I agree that for people who are fit and able, this can be deemed a bribe to gain support.

“There has to be a special panel set up to determine who qualifies for the aid, as soon as possible,” he said aftre officiating the Malaysian History Congress 2018 here on Tuesday.

Also present was Malaysian Historical Society executive committee chairman, Tan Sri Omar Mohd Hashim.

Rais said from the RM8 billion allocated for BR1M aid all this while, two thirds of the recipients should not have received the aid.

“We do not want Malaysia to become a welfare state like what happened in England, which is fraught with deceit,” he said.

He said that at the same time, Dr Mahathir’s statement was meant to encourage the people to work in order to gain rewards.

“The people should work first to get their reward.

“If we continue to give it, then the people will become lazy and this is not a good practice.

“BR1M should only be given to the elderly and those who meet specific criteria,” he said.

On Aug 26, Dr Mahathir said the government will slowly reduce the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) payout before eventually stopping them. He said although it would not be a popular decision among the 7.2 million recipients, his administration’s goal now was to create as many jobs as possible through domestic and foreign investments.

He said only by doing so would Malaysians become more independent and rely less on the government for handouts.

On the same day, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said the government is in the midst of drafting a new economic strategy, to replace the BR1M.

The new economic strategy, he said, would focus on the prosperity and well being of the people. It would be

tabled and debated in Parliament in October.

However, the move was met with criticism by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, whose Barisan Nasional government had initiated the BR1M scheme.

He said instead of helping the people during a looming economic crisis as predicted by analysts, the government seemed more intent on punishing those who needed help.

Najib said Pakatan Harapan (PH) must also explain why it seemed to be turning back on the promise of continuing with BR1M as listed in their 14th general election manifesto. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd