BR1M is the acronym for a people oriented aid program called “Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia”, under the auspices of the Malaysian Federal government. The long and short of it, BR1M’s objective is to provide monetary assistance to households and families whose total income per month do not exceed RM3,000 (or USD1,000), to lessen the financial burden currently being felt by most Malaysian households especially in today’s economic climate.
The monetary aid comes in the form of a RM500 cash voucher, given only once a year and that at the start of the new calendar year, with the voucher casheable at any commercial bank.
When BR1M was first launched in 2012, it proved to be a huge success as the RM500, despite the sum not amounting to much according to some, proved to provide much-needed relief for the very people the program was designed to assist.
When the Prime Minister announced, during the tabling of the Malaysian Budget for 2013 back in October 2012, that assistance under BR1M will continue for 2013, many a household let a sigh of relief, with something to look forward to for the new year.
But this is Malaysia, post 2008. A Malaysia where everything that the Federal government does must be criticised and politicised, never mind the intentions, noble though it may be.
As is the order of the day ever since the Internet made its international debut, the social media were full of sarcastic comments from faceless or unconfirmed personalities, accusing the Federal government of brazenly bribing the people to vote for the ruling party in the coming general elections, never mind that recipients of BR1M include households who are not supporters of the ruling party. And despite qualifying under the stipulated guidelines, the head of these households have the option to accept or decline the assistance.
There have been hurtful comments hurled at the Federal government eg the government has no business giving out assistance using tax payers money, AS IF by giving out under BR1M vouchers once a year, the government imposes additional tax on the tax-paying public than the tax amount the tax-payer had to pay anyway and AS IF it is not the business of the Federal government to look after fellow Malaysians who are in need of aid.
The fact of the matter is that assistance under the auspices of BR1M were meant to help the needy and the elderly. Yes, many grown up children do provide their parents with funds for whatever expenses they might have. And yes, many of these grown up children do provide their aged parents with medical care, taking care of their medication and hospitalization bills.
But not all parents are that lucky. Otherwise, we would not see a rise in the number of homes for the elderly, both privately managed or otherwise. Some may argue that these homes for the elderly do provide the necessary care for the aged. But not all homes are the same, aren’t they? And the comforts of a home for the aged is nowhere near the comfort of their children’s home. Or is it?
Hurtful it may be, but these are some of the actual comments posted in the social media, for all to see and to like and to share. Life must be really that tough that people’s hearts are now made of stone.
However, no matter how hurtful these comments may be, it is even hurtful and insulting when a man whom many respect as a wise and learned religious man likened the aid that is BR1M to rice and fodder given to chickens and cows at feeding time. The ironic thing is in the same breadth, if the rice and fodder was handed out by the “wise and learned religious” man himself, then its ok.
What sheer hypocrisy and what a sad and sorry state of affairs. But what was really sad was that these comments came just after the “wise and learned religious” man had just returned from the Umrah or Minor Pilgrimage. That really took the cake.
Another cake was the statement attributed to the president of a so-called Islamic party, not only supporting the statement by the “wise and learned religious man” by describing BR1M recipients stupid but also liken UMNO members to the communists, for whatever reason only he can surmise. That also took the cake but that’s another cake.
For many of us, whether you are a Muslim or otherwise, we have been taught from childhood to respect men of learning especially those learned in the affairs of the Faith. But with hypocrisy like this, then something must be done quick and fast to rectify this sorry state of affairs.
Otherwise, the respect that once was there for people of religion will be gone for good, regardless of whether the chickens do actually come home to roost and whether the cows do actually come home.