PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s criticism against 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) and the national minimum wage policy is an insult to millions of Malaysians, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan (pic).
In a statement on Monday, Abdul Rahman said that it was disappointing that the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman continues to claim that BR1M is a form of corruption.
“This time, Tun Mahathir went further and claimed that BR1M is against the law. He had also attacked the national minimum wage policy.
“This is an insult to the millions of Malaysians who have benefited from these policies every year,” said Abdul Rahman, who is also Barisan Nasional strategic communications director.
He said that direct cash transfer programs such as BR1M is common in many countries around the world and was neither corruption nor against the law in any way.
Abdul Rahman said BR1M is among a number of policy measures that has helped to redistribute taxes received from the higher income groups to the bottom 40% income households (B40), while the minimum wage policy meanwhile was to ensure that the country’s lowest paid workers were entitled to fair wage.
“Policies such as these are part of our National Transformation Program that will enable Malaysia to achieve key objectives critical to our country's well-being,” he said.
Abdul Rahman said that the policies have helped the Government to re-balance the economy and grow the domestic economy.
“This has helped to insulate Malaysia against the volatility of the global economy and making our economy more robust,” he said.
Abdul Rahman stressed that BR1M has also helped the Government in their effort to redistribute income and stimulate the rural economies, boosting the domestic economy.
He said that despite slower global growth and a slump in global commodity prices, Malaysia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth improved to 4.3% in the 3rd quarter.
“This shows that our efforts are working,” said Abdul Rahman, adding that there was no doubt that these policies helped to improving income equality.
“According to Economic Planning Unit (EPU) data, the median monthly gross household income for all Malaysians has grown to RM4,585 in 2014 from RM2,830 in 2009 - an increase of RM1,755 or a 62% growth within five years,” he said.
According to Abdul Rahman, this was much bigger compared to the five-year period between 1984 to 1989 where the median income only grew by RM95 or 13.5%.
Abdul Rahman also said median income for Bumiputra households grew faster than the national average and registered a 66% growth between 2009 to 2014, from RM2,531 to RM4,214 per month.
“This increase during the first five years of the current Prime Minister's tenure compares favourably with the RM96 increase (16.5% growth) between 1984 to 1989 under Tun Dr Mahathir's rule.
“In fact, it even beats the RM1,112 increase in Bumiputra household median income for the whole 18 years period between 1984 to 2002 when Tun Mahathir was in charge,” he said.
Abdul Rahman said the success of policies since 2009 is reflected in Malaysia’s Gini coefficient - a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income distribution of a nation’s residents and is most commonly used to measure inequality.
He said between 2009 and 2014, the Gini ratio for all Malaysia has dropped from 0.441 to 0.401, while equally impressive improvements were also shown in the Bumiputra segment as well as in reducing the urban-rural gap.
“It is clear that in terms of income equality, Malaysia, as a country, has never been more equal. We will continue to improve in this area,” said Abdul Rahman.
Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman said that both Pribumi’s president and deputy president had been ardent supporter of BR1M in the past and asked Dr Mahathir if he was accusing them of being corrupt as well.
He said that the Government would continue to pursue policies and strategies such as “BR1M, minimum wage and other policies including a strong but fair Bumiputera policies”.
“As such, Barisan makes no apologies in targeting to have a fairer and more robust Malaysia. It is only right and just that all Malaysians share in our success story,” said Abdul Rahman.