KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has refuted allegations that the recent special aid and assistance announced under the ‘Madani Economy: Empowering the People’ initiative was a mere election gift as it was intended to alleviate the burden of the people.

National daily The Star today reported that he dismissed the accusations, labelling his critics as “tone deaf” and insensitive to the hardships faced by the people.

“These are wealthy people who speak without their brains.

“Let me ask you here: do you want the money now or at the next tabling of the Madani Budget, which will be in October?” he was quoted as saying at the Sentuhan Kasih Desa Terengganu programme in Bandar Al Mukatfi Billah Shah here yesterday.

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In response, the crowd resoundingly chanted “Sekarang!” (Now).

Anwar added that the decision was made in response to the pressing issue of low wages among civil servants.

“I admit the salaries of civil servants are low. A prime minister who had governed for 22 years never thought about or studied the need for this.

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“Chief Secretary Tan Sri Zuki Ali told me a committee chaired by me will be formed to look into this matter and will take a long time, up to six months.

“While we are waiting for the results of studies, we decided to give out the assistance now,” Anwar was quoted as saying by The Star.

On Thursday, Anwar, when launching the Madani Economy initiative, said that the government will be giving a special appreciation aid of RM300 to civil servants of Grade 56 and below, along with RM200 to retirees within these two weeks.

The government will also be granting RM100 in e-cash credit to over 10 million adult Malaysians with an annual income of RM100, 000and below.

Yesterday, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil also refuted the claims that the aid was politically motivated in conjunction with the upcoming six state elections.