BR1M 2018’s $1.6b payout not politically motivated in order to buy votes: PM Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that BR1M was not his or any other political party’s idea, but instead the brainchild of Bank Negara.

The implementation of the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) is not politically motivated but instead an aid package aimed at helping the lower income manage the rising costs of living, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The Government said it will dish out RM6.3 billion (US$1.6 billion) to seven million people from Feb 26 as part of BR1M. Malaysians who have been pre-selected will get up to RM1,200 in three tranches this year.

He said that BR1M was not his or any other political party’s idea, but instead the branchild of Bank Negara which has no political interest, reported The New Straits Times.

Najib’s retort comes on the back of various allegations by the opposition that it is intended to buy votes.

Najib, who is also Malaysia’s Finance Minister, said in his speech before launching the national-level BR1M on Feb 25: “If we want to buy votes, we will only give it to ‘puak-puak kita’ (our people) but those in opposition-led states also receive BR1M… in fact opposition-led states have the highest number of recipients.”

A total of 2,000 residents from the Pekan parliamentary constituency were the first to receive the aid presented by Najib, who is the ward’s Member of Parliament, reported the Malay Mail Online.

Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said that the government is always looking for ways to improve the disbursement of BR1M and to boost the economic status of its recipients, according to Bernama.

The opposition’s claims that the payouts were “candies” distributed by the government ahead of Malaysia’s upcoming general election were defamatory as they had run out of issues.

He said: “BR1M is given to the poor for them to pay for essential items and the increase in money circulation will indirectly spur domestic economy.”

BR1M payouts were first introduced in 2012, with a payment of RM500 for households earning below RM3,000. The amount was progressively increased over the years with 2017’s payment also amounting to RM1,200.