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Some questions for PM after RM100 e-cash announcement

The timing of the announcement ahead of the state elections is suspect, as well as the targeted demographic and the potential effect of the total amount on the country's finances.

Mohd Amsyar Jamal
2 minute read

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's announcement that Malaysians earning less than RM100,000 a year will get RM100 worth of e-wallet credit has raised many questions. This will cost the government some RM1 billion and is expected to benefit some 10 million Malaysians

The timing of the announcement is suspect as it came some 48 hours prior to nominations for the elections in six states, due on Aug 12. When Pakatan Harapan (PH) was in the opposition, it made much hue and cry over Barisan Nasional dishing out cash to entice voters to support the latter.

PH leaders gave ex-prime minister Najib Razak the moniker "cash is king". But isn't PH doing the same with the announcement? 

Even if Anwar's motivation was not political, his advisers should have pointed out to him that the optics of the decision would make his administration look bad. This is because his Madani government is again seen as back-pedalling on the reform agenda, including the pledge of not abusing government machinery for political ends.

Anyway, RM1 billion is no small amount, especially when Anwar, who's also the finance minister, keeps lamenting about the government's finances, particularly the yawning budget deficit and RM1 trillion in national debts. 

Besides, giving out cash to individuals who earn RM8,000 per month is questionable as the money should be channelled towards more deserving ones such as the hardcore poor, if not the B40.

And why didn't Anwar include this in Budget 2024, which he tabled in February? Or, if he's adamant on handing out cash, couldn't he have held back the announcement by 16 days, once the state polls are over? Do the 16 days matter to Anwar, unless it's to sweeten the deal for voters in the six states?

The prime minister has a lot to answer to over the decision to hand RM100 to some 10 million Malaysian adults. And if he doesn't address these concerns well, he'll have to answer to voters, whether in the six states or during the next general election.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.