PETALING JAYA: Similar schemes to 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) were set up during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time in office as prime minister, said Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak.
The Communications and Multimedia Minister said that the former premier’s allegation that BR1M was equivalent to corruption and therefore illegal was “mind-boggling” as Dr Mahathir had set up wang ehsan (compassionate fund) to Terengganu.
He was referring to the payments made by the Federal Government to the Terengganu government, which was PAS-led at the time, in lieu of paying oil royalties that started in 2000.
“Malaysia has been dishing out welfare aid since long before Mahathir became Prime Minister in 1981.
“In fact, since 2000, Terengganu has been giving direct aid to its citizens in all forms, the same as BR1M, although it was not called BR1M,” said Salleh in a blog post on Monday.
“After implementing the Wang Ehsan and Terengganu aid program in 2000, Mahathir now turns round and condemns BR1M,” he said.
He questioned whether the Opposition, which Dr Mahathir is now part of as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman, would abolish all aid and welfare programmes if they were to come to power.
“How can you classify aid programmes as corruption? Are tax deductions and rebates also corruption? What about zakat (tithes) and kebajikan (welfare)?
“All are forms of aid just like BR1M,” he said.