Prime Minister Najib Razak today insisted that the federal government’s 1Malaysia People’s Assistance programme (BR1M) was not an animal feed, as claimed by certain critics.
Firing a broadside at former premier Mahathir Mohamad, he said BR1M was part of the federal government’s approach in tackling social issues such as helping the poor.
Mahathir once described BR1M assistance was a “chicken feed.”
Najib said the decision to give out the assistance was not his alone but was decided and endorsed by the Cabinet and Umno Supreme Council.
The Prime Minister said schemes such BR1M had been endorsed by 35 economists from the United Kingdom as being effective in helping the poor.
“Malaysia’s approach in tackling social issues such as helping the poor is getting international attention.
“BR1M is not like animal feed as some have accused,” said Najib when launching the joint meetings of four Sabah Umno divisions on Sunday.
The four divisions were Kimanis headed by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, Papar by Abdul Rahim Ismail), Beaufort by Isnin Aliasnih and Sipitang by Sapawi Ahmad.
Najib fired another salvo at Dr. Mahathir, saying that he had adopted a different approach in dealing with world leaders and avoided the confrontational method of a predecessor.
“I may be amicable but I will always protect Malaysia interests above all,’’ he stressed.
He reminded Umno members that the party would remain strong only if they fully understood and practiced the ethos or values required of them, with loyalty being on top the list.
“There is no point in having the brightest minds if there is no loyalty to the party or leaders,” Najib said in adding that he was proud of ordinary Umno members who were willing to sweat under the hot sun to serve the party and the people.
“They wait patiently just to shake hands and greet the leaders and not expecting direct contracts or projects,” he added.
Najib said he also appreciated the fact the Sabah Umno members had been steadfast with the party since it expanded to the state in 1991.
Though Sabah Umno at 25-years-old can be considered the youngest sibling, he said it had grown to become the party’s backbone, adding that Umno was the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
Without a backbone, he said any coalition would become like the opposition, which was disorganised and disunited.
“We cannot gamble with our future. Umno and Barisan is still the best for Malaysia,” Najib added.
He said those who took “short cuts” to gain power would be judged harshly by history as opportunists or being Machiavellian.
“For example, they say the opposition DAP is a chauvinistic party but later sit down at one table with them,” Najib said.
Without naming anyone, he said a former leader had also warned against using street demonstrations as a way to overthrow the government but was now encouraging them.
“Now he is apologising for curtailing the powers of the royalty,” Najib said.