The trouble with Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah is that, unlike his predecessor, he's a straight arrow - one of the last few good men still standing. Sometimes I wish he was a little crooked sometimes. In the case of the 17,000 ex-BR1M recipients who had declined the latest round of aid because they no longer "qualified", their honesty is heart-warming, especially in this day and age, but the Second Finance Minister should also quickly reflect the immediate concern, as expressed by blogger SatD on his FB: "Something is wrong with the recipients database, if not why would 17k say no?"
If the database is correct - that 7 million Malaysians qualify for the financial assistance - then 7 million people will probably disagree with Dr Mahathir Mohamad if the Statesman was, indeed, advocating an end to BR1M in his latest posting, h e r e. I may be wrong but I don't think that's what Dr Mahathir is advocating. As I read it, the former PM is suggesting that:
1. You don't give out BR1M ahead of an election2. It's not sustainable - the Najib Administration should not adopt BR1M as a permanent policy to help the poor
I totally subscribe to the first point. In fact, this popular political culture of approving millions to Chinese or Tamil schools, and promising the sky and the moon, just weeks or days ahead of a by-election should stop altogether. The government has an excellent track record (latest example: the second Penang bridge is built and completed even though Penang has been with the Opposition for the second term) so there's no need to bribe or be seen as bribing the voters.
The second point requires closer examination. Every nation needs to throw a safety net to help its very poor and BR1M, for Malaysia, is that safety net. I like the idea that BR1M helps redirect subsidies from the wealthy directly into the hands of the poor. Plus that fact that the money will most likely be spent on the local economy, which will boost activities.
HusniBut as the 17k ex-BR1M recipients show, there may be thousands of others - millions, even - who do not deserve the money but are getting it and are too lazy to say NO. We need to review that database, YB Husni, and confine the size of the safety net to the really poor instead of widening it.
IMHO, we should continue BR1M but they must be confined to the very poor. struggling single moms, the average Joe who's keeping two or three jobs to care for his ageing parents, for example. For the rest of them, especially the urban folks, there are other more innovative, out-of-the-box means to help them deal with rising costs of living.