If welfare is a bribe, then Selangor should lead by example
You would think this topic would be over by now, but apparently Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali just can't let it go.
He has come out and continued to say that the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) is a bribe, yet again.
Let us consider what a bribe is, a payment of incentives in order for a favour - a quid pro quo, so to speak.
What exactly is the government getting as a return for BR1M?
Votes? There isn't exactly an 'Akujanji undi BN' clause in taking the cash handout.
Plus, if this welfare plan is considered a bribe, then I suggest Selangor state end all its welfare programs on the same basis.
The free 20 cubic metres of water, the schoolkids assistance, the single mother welfare assistance, the senior citizens assistance, and even the Selangor Foundation handout for college students.
Heck ... the Selangor state bribes parents in the state to the tune of RM1,500 just for giving birth through Tabung Warisan Anak Selangor (TAWAS), regardless if they're children of millionaires or poverty stricken families.
At the very least, BR1M is based on income.
After all, aren't these also bribes, since it guarantees popular support of Selangor citizens for their state government?
These aren't bribes? Why?
Seems the pot calling the kettle black, in my personal opinion.
Of course, Selangor state would probably point out that they do so only for the needy in their state and not for everyone.
Well, the Federal Government dishes BR1M out to everyone while Selangor and Penang state governments are limited to their borders, because they are the federal government.
If ever Pakatan Harapan wins the federal administration, then by all means do your own social experiments.
Till then, perhaps Azmin should stop bribing the people of Selangor with welfare handouts whilst telling the federal government to stop BR1M.
Also, perhaps tell his coalition colleagues in Penang to stop their welfare bribing as well?
Otherwise, it really seems hypocritical to accuse one side giving welfare as "bribery" while you do the same as "the people need aid to live".
Furthermore, allow me to remind everyone what the late Tok Guru Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said about accepting these so-called "bribes" and elections.
"If they offer money, take the money. But when it comes to an election, cross the moon," he said, mentioning the PAS logo.
Whatever welfare plan any coalition dishes out is no guarantee for votes. Selangor had 1,017,403 BR1M recipients in 2016, as mentioned by Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani in October last year.
What this shows is that there is a huge population in Selangor - even with all the welfare/bribery by the state government - are finding it tough to make ends meet, and registered for the aid.
And bear in mind, they registered for it. It's not like the federal government went to them and shoved it down their throats.
In other words, these people in Selangor made the effort of filling the form and such to receive the aid.
But would it translate to votes?
It didn't in 2013. So why is Azmin and the Selangor Pakatan Harapan continually harping on providing welfare to those in dire need of it?
Make no mistake, I share Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram's views on BR1M.
There are mishandlings in the delivery of such an aid plan, but those can be seen in any nation dishing out welfare. Kinks happen, and should be streamlined.
But the politically vengeful stance of PKR, and in some cases Pakatan as a whole, reeks of putting politics before needs. It has to stop.
However, if Selangor state insists on continuing with this stance, then it should lead by example and end all the welfare plans that it has established since being in government, just to end their hypocrisy.
Just tell all the poor citizens to register with the Welfare Department and state zakat establishments for handouts instead.
** Hafidz Baharom is a social observer and a regular contributor at Astro AWANI digital section.
*** Views expressed are personally his and do not necessarily reflect those of Astro AWANI.