Aid must be obligation-free

PETALING JAYA: The people are entitled to receive the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) as it is part of the government's policy but they should not feel compelled to vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) in return.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said those who are qualified to receive the RM1,200 cash aid have every right to claim the money.

"It is the people's right to have it. If they are qualified for it then they should get it. Our issue with BR1M is that not everyone benefits from it, where as everyone gets taxed under GST," Wan Azizah told a press conference today.

She was commenting on PPBM chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's assertion that BR1M is a form of bribery as it is used to buy support and should be illegal.

Amanah Communications chief Khalid Samad, however, said if voters are compelled to return the favour and vote for BN during the general election, then it would be vote-buying.

"We want the people to think about how effective it is as an economic policy for the people and the country. Don't think you are obliged to vote for BN because you received BR1M. If BR1M buys your loyalty then it is a bribe.

"You can accept BR1M, that is your right. But when the time comes to vote, you choose the party which presents an economic policy that is sustainable and can solve the country's and the people's economic problems," the Shah Alam MP said.

DAP political education director Liew Chin Tong said the government should have a more holistic economic policy instead of relying on BR1M to alleviate the people's burden due to the rising cost of living.

Meanwhile, Wan Azizah said seat negotiations are still ongoing between Opposition parties and all will be settled in due time.

Asked to comment on the improbability of her husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becoming the next Prime Minister, she replied "Never say 'never'."

Khalid also added that there will be another meeting between Opposition parties in the first week of January, where major issues including seat negotiations and a common policy platform will be discussed.