Is Singapore govt buying votes too with GST vouchers? Najib asks Azmin

Azmin yesterday said BR1M was proof of Barisan's failure to empower the B40 group to make the leap to the middle class M40 group. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Azmin yesterday said BR1M was proof of Barisan's failure to empower the B40 group to make the leap to the middle class M40 group. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak has chided minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali today for the latter’s criticism of his administration’s 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) handout, saying many other countries practice similar cash transfer programmes.

Najib asked the economic affairs minister if he would similarly criticise neighbouring Singapore for its GST Voucher scheme, which the former prime minister said was akin to BR1M.

“I would like (to ask) Azmin: Has the Singapore government failed, or it is buying and coddling its citizens because they have a scheme like BR1M?” Najib asked in a Facebook post.

Najib said Singapore has paid SG$1 billion (RM3 billion) so far this year to its 1.6 million citizens who earn less than SG$28,000 annually, making the payout SG$625 (RM1,875) per head.

But unlike BR1M, Singapore’s GST Voucher scheme comes in three components: cash, medical support for the elderly called Medisave, and utility bills rebate called U-Save.

Yesterday, Azmin chided the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government for failing to improve the livelihood of the country’s bottom 40 per cent wage earners, also known as the B40 group.

He said BR1M was proof of its failure to empower the B40 group to make the leap to the middle class M40 group.

In response, Najib slammed Azmin for his apparent lack of understanding of economics and mathematical concept, saying the B40 group will always exist even when its members had entered the M40 group.

“At all times, the B40 will always exist. This is a basic mathematical concept!” Najib said.

“At all times as well, there will be families who leave the B40 group because their wages rise, and there are new families that enter the group,” he added.

In August, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported as saying that Putrajaya will slowly reduce BR1M payouts before weaning Malaysians off it altogether.

Currently, there are over 7.2 million BR1M recipients.