Friday, January 27, 2012

Money for BR1M could be put to better use

Rejecting corruption in any form it takes.

Ditching out money to the people seems to have become a fashion these days, with the BN and PR governments competing with each other to do so. The latest of these generous gestures is the Batuan Rakyat 1Malaysia(BR1M).It makes one wonder from where this money suddenly come from.

The on-going BR1M pay-outs of RM500 for households with monthly income of less than RM3,000 has created a lot of excitement among the people, especially those who needed the money and the senior citizens without any fixed source of income and have to depend on their children. All of them are grateful and happy to the government for the aid which they truly deserve. This is evident from the comments of the recipients as shown on national TV and covered by the mainstream media. Who in the right mind will not be happy to receive extra money?

It would be a noble move by the government it was meant to truly help the people especially the poor during this time of financial difficulties with the escalating cost of living. However the way it is dispensed does not reflect genuine sincerity with regards to its motives. Instead the way the money is being distributed appears to an electoral corruption which works to discredit the government.

For the details of how the money is being distributed you can refer to Anil Netto’s, It’s raining money III: How it’s distributed at

At a handing over ceremony, we see large number of people of all races queuing up to receive their cash vouchers from politicians from the ruling party. At times they are forced to listen to their speeches that touch on the goodwill of the BN government which has the welfare of the people at heart all the time. Food and refreshments are also served.

To me asking people who are poor to assemble at specified places, listen to ceramah and the queue up for hours to receive some cash is an insult on their dignity. On top of that these are widely publicised by the lopsided media for all to see. Moreover the money belongs to the people themselves not the person who dispenses it. Why can’t it be distributed in a more respectable and dignified manner? Why the need for politicians to be in charge of the distribution of the money? Can’t it be done by government agencies and banks? Why this overt politicisation of a simple gesture of goodwill, which is the duty of the government after all?

For the hard-core poor, RM500 is indeed a large sum that will go a long way to reduce their financial burden. It may even feed them and their family for a month. To the large majority of other recipients the sum, as a one off payment, is just an additional bonus and does not really significantly help them out financially. In fact many use it to spend it on items that they really don’t need. The amount that runs into tens or even hundreds of millions is hard earned taxpayer’s money which could be used more beneficially for the people than be given out to “enjoy” themselves for a few days.

What the people really need is not a one-off payment but a better planned scheme to help them in the long term to cope with the difficult times ahead. They need to be given the opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge to improve themselves. They need more job opportunities and better wages, easier accessibility to quality and cheaper health care, better and more affordable tertiary education and more affordable housing especially in urban areas. They need a better, cheaper, more convenient and safer transportation system. Most of all they need a system that recognises them as legitimate citizens whose constitutional rights are safeguarded regardless of race or creed.

The present practice of giving out money on and off, as carried out now, is an election gimmick that capitalizes on the people’s inherent greed for “free’ money, which is becoming a prevalent culture today. It should be strongly discouraged as it is a form of corruption, which should not be tolerated by the people.

On the other hand it is time for the people to reject such hand-outs, which comes from their own money, in exchange for their invaluable votes in the coming elections. Instead they should attain the maturity and wisdom to demand for better long term measures and not succumb to such short term inducements by any party. It is in this maturity and wisdom to reject all forms of corruption and abuse of power will depend the future of our children and our nation.

For no reason whatsoever should the we be willing to surrender our dignity which our votes signify.

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