But with BR1M abolished, how will those classified under the B40 (households earning RM3,000 and below) category be able to survive? Here are five subsidiaries and aids already in place that you might not have heard of!
MCA’s investment arm Koperasi Jayadiri Malaysia Berhad (KOJADI) is known for its education loan programmes. There are two loan packages available:
- Plan 1: Maximum loan amount of RM100,000 will be given for all local courses including certificate, skill-based, diploma, professional, postgraduate and any undergraduate courses.
- Plan 2: Maximum loan amount of RM200,000 will be given for all overseas courses, postgraduate or undergraduate medical-related courses as well as local medical-related courses.
The organisation has issued over RM255mil in loans that has benefitted approximately 11,000 students. Established in 1981, it now has a total of 13 loan schemes, covering various fields from vocational education to postgraduate courses.
“I believe this makes KOJADI the one and only organisation in Malaysia to provide such extensive consideration to meet the needs of students’ skills training and tertiary education,” said MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Similarly, the government has also been channelling billions of Ringgit into education subsidies since 2012 – fees for public schools have been waived and the government funds about 90% of university tuition fees. As stated by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, “For example, the fees for a medical education programme before the subsidy is RM289,885. But after the subsidy, students only need to pay a fee of RM9,000 during the course of study.”
2) Social Welfare Monetary Aid
The Social Welfare Monetary Aid aims to provide financial assistance to a range of people: poor families, children of poor families, senior citizens and people with disabilities (PWD) among others. Launched in 2011, this scheme hands out a monthly living wage to all those who are eligible and have so far provided over RM1.4bil to approximately 500,000 people in need.
Below are just some of the monetary compensations for targeted categories under this scheme (full list here):
- Children of Poor Families: RM100 monthly aid for underprivileged children under the age of 18.
- Children Under Foster Care: RM250 monthly aid for fostered children.
- Senior Citizens: RM300 monthly aid for the elderly poor above 60 years old.
- Non-working People With Disabilities (PWD): RM200 monthly aid.
- Working People With Disabilities (PWD): RM350 monthly incentive for those earning less than RM1,200 a month.
3) Klinik 1Malaysia
In 2010, the Ministry of Health (MOH) set up an initiative called K1M (Klinik 1Malaysia), which is now set to be rebranded to Klinik Komuniti to reflect the fact that they are for the rakyat. Since its inception, yearly patient admissions nationwide went from 1.3mil to 6.6mil by 2017, proving just how valuable its services were.
At present, there are a total of 346 clinics throughout Malaysia, with the aim of ensuring that the community receives affordable medical services, whether it’s in the city, suburban and rural areas. For example, Malaysian citizens from all walks of life would only need to pay RM1 for consultation fees, compared to a private hospital that would charge anywhere between RM30 to RM250.
To put things into perspective: According to Dr Alzamani Mohammad Idrose, an emergency physician at Hospital Kuala Lumpur, “For RM1 that you pay, you typically get consultation, X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, a blood test and medication, which would actually cost RM1,250. You pay RM1; we absorb RM1,249.”
4) Aids and services for senior citizens
Malaysian citizens who are 60 years and above with no income and no family (or with family who are not financially able to assist them) have access to government support to continue having stable living conditions in the country. The government has allocated RM300 per month as living allowances, in addition to four other programmes: Home Help, Activity Centres for Older Persons (PAWE), We Care Unit (UPWE) and Respite Care.
These have been designed specifically to provide assistance and support services; safe spaces for the elderly to carry out daily activities like therapy and rehabilitation programs as well as health seminars (free of charge); transportation services to receive medical check-ups and treatments; temporary placements in an institution for a specific period (includes care and providing for basic needs).
The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries (MOA) set up a programme called Agrobazaar, which aims to be a platform for local entrepreneurs to market their agro-based industry products (fresh or processed).
It’s one of the ways the government is helping to provide goods at much more affordable prices, and provide income-generating opportunities to the local community. It's not just for the people in the B40 bracket, anyone would be able to walk in and purchase their daily necessities. Not only would you be able to save a fair bit of money, you’d also be supporting local producers!
For example, in Tesco, 500g of small red Indian onion (bawang kecil merah India) costs RM3.29 whereas if you buy 2kg of small red Indian onion from Agrobazaar, it only costs RM3.50. When all the math is done, you’d end up with a savings of RM9.66.
Is BR1M really necessary?
While some question the move to abolish BR1M, there are still plenty of other subsidies and aids currently in place to continue helping those who are TRULY in need. BR1M's cash handouts don't address the root causes of the poverty problem, even though it may be a good short-term plan to help its recipients with the rising costs of living.
Programmes such as the Social Welfare Monetary Aid should be encouraged, with additional in-depth research into identifying the real needs of the B40 group. Hopefully, as the government slowly phases out BR1M, we’ll see more comprehensive social safety programmes take its place such as affordable public housing, skills training and reduction of household debts.