KUALA KANGSAR – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) payment was not political corruption as claimed by the opposition because countries such as Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the United States also implemented a similar initiative to help their peoples.
Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said the opposition had often claimed that the BR1M, introduced in 2012 to help the low-income people, was mere ‘dedak’ (bran).
However, he added, the opposition Pakatan Harapan pact which had at one time condemned the BR1M payments had included BR1M in its election manifesto.
“In the Barisan Nasional manifesto, the quantum of BR1M has been raised in keeping with the principle that we provide returns to the people when there is income from managing the country well. What better way is there to provide these returns than through BR1M.
“This is not political corruption. We give the aid to everybody. This is the responsibility of the government to the people to maintain their welfare. We do not show favouritism. Other countries also have such payments but in other names,” he said at a meet-the-people session at Dewan Jubli Perak here.
Citing examples, Najib said Singapore provided cash aid through its Central Provident Fund (CPF), the United States through food stamps and Saudi Arabia through direct payments to the recipients’ accounts.
The Prime Minister reiterated that Malaysia was not a bankrupt country as claimed by the opposition, saying that foreign investment was rising and the currency was strengthening.
“If you say that the BN has managed the national economy to bankruptcy, how is it that the 1.6 million civil servants nationwide are able to enjoy two salary increments this year?
“If our country is bankrupt, do you think other countries will want to invest in Malaysia? Saudi Arabia, through petroleum company Aramco, has agreed to invest US$7 billion in Pengerang, Johor,” he said.
He said Tabung Haji had raised dividends and the Employees Provident Fund announced a 6.9 per cent interest rate for the conventional savings in 2017.
“All dividends went up. This does not portray a bankrupt country. I would have been unable to announce higher BR1M payments or provide aid to smallholders, paddy farmers and fishermen,” he said.
About 5,000 members of BN component parties from four parliamentary constituencies – Kuala Kangsar, Sungai Siput, Padang Rengas and Lenggong – attended the event.
Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz were also present. – BERNAMA