LAST_UPDATEFri, 23 Mar 2018 8pm

Why The B40 Should Stop Relying On BR1M And Focus More On Training Programmes

At the end of February, large crowds filled the banks across the country as the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) was distributed to eligible recipients.

While Pakatan Harapan has alleged the government was buying votes with the cash handouts, the financial aid was a proposal by Bank Negara Malaysia to enable targeted subsidy to be carried out for the benefit of the people, according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Since its implementation in 2012, RM500 were given to nearly 4.1 million recipients, before the amount was increased to RM1,000 in 2016 and RM1,200 last year – and it was well-received and relieved the burden of those who needed it the most, the Bottom 40% (B40) income group.

And although most of the brickbats about BR1M are considered as nothing substantial and merely malicious slander by the opposition, Barjoyai Bardai, an economist who teaches at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak recently pointed out that BR1M was a one-off financial aid and not a long-term plan to help sustain the lives of its recipients.

Barjoyai stressed that increasing BR1M cannot fix the urban poor’s woes, hence, “The major and long-term solution is to have a serious retraining programme to these groups, so that they will have new skills to generate higher income, and to venture into new sources of income,” he was quoted as saying in FMT.

But is it fair to say that the government is not paying attention towards training programmes for the lower income group?

Government Initiatives Contribute A Tenfold Increase In B40 Income

TUBE Programme participantsTUBE Programme participants

With just a little research, it is easy to debunk the statement that the government has not been preparing the B40 enough with ways to supplement their income, in addition to the BR1M money they receive.

In fact, to improve the lower income group’s livelihood, many entrepreneurship programmes as well as skills and career training programmes such as Skim Usahawan Permulaan Bumiputera (SUPERB), Program Usahawan Teknikal (PUTEK), Program Tunas Usahawan Belia Bumiputera (TUBE), eUsahawan, eRezeki, Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga (TEKUN), among others, have already been initiated by the government under several government agencies and departments.

These programmes are also well-funded by the government over the years. In the 2018 Budget, Najib announced RM20 billion was allocated for the development purposes of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with an allocation of RM500 million to TEKUN Nasional to assist small-scale entrepreneurs to develop their businesses.

Several participants who have undergone such courses shared with Malaysian Digest how these programmes have enabled them to supplement their income and bring about a positive change in their lives.

Mohd Zaid Mohamed from Felcra Bukit Kepong, Muar, is a freelancer who has found international success after registering with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) eRezeki programme.

Mohd Zaid MohamedMohd Zaid Mohamed“Before I found the eRezeki programme, I tried a lot of things. I started dabbling in entrepreneurship when I was 23 years old, but my first venture went bust due to several factors. I then went back to work for two years before I tried my hand in another business venture, but went bust again.

“Then I started doing freelance graphic design jobs for my friends but was not making much money. Along with my freelancing, I also helped my father at the palm plantation and I was making only around RM500 to RM1,000 per month,” Zaid shared.

But after a friend introduced him to the eGlobal Freelancer programme (EGF) under the eRezeki platform, he decided to give it a shot, and it impressively turned his life around – as he is now able to make at least RM5,000 per month.

Zaid attributes much of his success towards the stellar training provided by the trainers and coaches in the programme.

“I was taught how to use online freelancing platforms such as and, how to bid for existing jobs, and how to convince clients to hire me for a job.

“The trainers are made up of experienced people and are also major players in the freelance industry themselves. Everything they teach us is based on their own personal experience, and it is an invaluable insight,” said the 32-year-old.

With his newfound success, Zaid adds, “I feel very thankful as the programme has helped opened doors for me and also allowed me to generate a sizeable income.”

Similarly, another eRezeki participant, Mohd Nazri Ismail, who initially struggled to make ends meet for his family with a measly RM3,000 monthly income, has generated supplementary income after discovering the programme.

Mohd Nazri IsmailMohd Nazri Ismail“I was actually working with a major supermarket chain as their IT operation support staff but it was so hard to provide for my family with a minimal wage,” said Nazri, who then chose to become a car sales agent through the eRezeki programme.

“From the eRezeki programme, I was introduced to a mobile application called ‘Rezekee’, which deals with the automotive sales industry,” and shares salesmen’s commission to crowd workers whenever they refer good deals to their friends or family who want to buy new cars.

“So I took part in the programme and went for training every weekend. In the training, they taught me how to approach potential customers, how to offer them the best deals, and how to look for the best cars to sell to them.

“I gained invaluable experience from the training, and I was taught how to successfully conduct my business. I also invited other friends to join the Rezekee platform under my wings.

“As of now, I have 122 car sales agents under me via the Rezekee platform. This has helped me to gain an income of more than RM6,000 per month,” the 36-year-old exclaimed.

Nazri proudly shared with us, “Now, I am able to provide for my family comfortably and we no longer need to rely on financial aids.”

Meanwhile, 45-year-old housewife, Darlina Karim from Selayang, who was one of the beneficiaries of the Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat (KEMAS) training programme opened up on how her six-month training had helped boost her household income.

“I was enrolled in the KEMAS institute in Seri Iskandar, Perak, and signed up for a six-month sewing course.

“Though I joined with some basics of sewing, during the training I was taught by some very skilled teachers, so I required new techniques,” she enlightened, while sharing that she received commissions from many customers ever since.

“I’m now able to supplement my family’s income by taking orders for traditional clothing like baju kurung and baju Melayu, and demands have increased especially during the Hari Raya festivities.

“During these times, I receive up to 30 orders, which subsequently increases our family’s income as well. Now I’m also teaching my daughter how to sew so she can contribute to the family’s household income,” she explained and remarked, “Thankfully, we are no longer struggling these days.”

Training Programmes Should Work Hand In Hand With BR1M

Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launching the e-Rezeki programme in 2015.Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launching the e-Rezeki programme in 2015.

Speaking with Umno Youth exco member Datuk Armand Azha Abu Hanifa who is also the GiatMara deputy chairman, he reminds the lower income group why training programmes are valuable as a long-term solution, while emphasising that it should go hand in hand with BR1M.

Though first and foremost, he highlighted that BR1M’s popularity and success should not be compared with any of these training programmes.

Datuk Armand Azha Abu HanifahDatuk Armand Azha Abu Hanifah“It is unfair to compare the two initiatives, as they are completely different. BR1M is a subsidy provided by the government to help the people and ease their financial burdens. While retraining programmes are catered to help the people increase or supplement their income by increasing their skillset.

“For example, last year, GiatMara produced over 100,000 Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) graduates. Of course, when compared to the amount of people that receive BR1M, it’s still small, but it’s a major step taken by our training industry.

“We are in our baby steps, and I expect more and more people to join training and skill programmes over the years,” Armand Azha declared.

Armand Azha also said that although there are no plans to stop the distribution of BR1M, he lauded the government’s efforts in looking at how to increase the B40 group’s income and reduce the number of citizens that fall in that segment.

“This is why the government is focused on carrying out training programmes, so the B40 group will stop relying on BR1M, instead focus on how they can increase their income, and better their lives.

“We want to stop giving out fish, but instead we want to start giving out reels,” he stressed and shared for the B40 to achieve their true potential, both government incentives should go hand in hand.

“BR1M and TVET programmes should not be pitted together, but should be seen as a hand in hand effort by the government to help the B40.

“For now, while they are in the B40 we will give them assistance, but we will also provide them with the skillset which will allow them to step out of the B40 range,” he asserted.

Armand Azha’s statement reminds us of the old saying which goes: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Perhaps following their BR1M handouts, now it’s high time for those in the B40 group to learn how to fish for themselves.