Malaysia GE14

Cash handouts spike as Malaysian election nears

Critics slam aid as vote-buying but others say it is public policy

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Noh Omar handing out cash to parents in a Selangor ward on Feb 2. The photo has caused an online furore.
Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Noh Omar handing out cash to parents in a Selangor ward on Feb 2. The photo has caused an online furore.PHOTO: NOH OMAR/FACEBOOK

The Malaysian government has been dispensing cash to poorer citizens hit by rising costs but, with the next general election due within months, critics say these payments are a form of vote-buying.

Since last July, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has dished out more than RM2.5 billion (S$842 million) in cash handouts to millions of Malaysians nationwide - from the destitute, farmers and fishermen to civil servants, religious teachers and village chiefs.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2018, with the headline 'Cash handouts spike as Malaysian election nears'. Print Edition | Subscribe