Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak maintains that the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) for low-income families was never a political tool, nor funded by "stolen" money.
Instead, he said BR1M payouts – which ran from 2012 until earlier this year – were funded by the previous BN administration's subsidy rationalisation and the GST, which has since been repealed by the new government.
Taking to Facebook, Najib said he "regretted" the statement by his successor Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the BR1M payments would be gradually reduced before being stopped altogether.
He also took the prime minister to task for alleging that BR1M was paid for by "stolen money," and saying that the people would not feel the impact of it being stopped as the amount paid out was too small.
"BR1M is not for political purposes and the criteria to receive it is only based on the families' monthly income – no matter which political party they support,
"What a weird accusation that the BN government 'stole' money to give it back to the rakyat," his post read.
Mahathir had told the Malaysian Insight that the Najib administration was "spoiling" the people with BR1M payments, and that "it made them think that without doing any work the government will give them money."
He said the Pakatan Harapan government will instead strive to create jobs, and attract foreign investment so that Malaysians become more independent.
'More tax collected from the rich'
Najib said that bulk subsidies would only benefit the rich, and that the collection of GST from this income group was higher than it would be under the sales and services tax (SST), which is due to be implemented next month.
"...This is because the rich pay more GST as their expenses are bigger and more important, GST reduces tax avoidance, reduce the channelling of illicit funds and collection of taxes from the 'black economy'," he claimed.
The money collected this way, Najib added, was returned to the B40 group as BR1M, the amount of which was constantly increased due to the growing Malaysian economy "at the time".
Najib further maintained this reduced the gap between the rich and the poor.
"What is wrong if we take money from the rich and those who have evaded tax to pay to the poor?"
BR1M was replaced with the Cost of Living Aid (BSH) initiative when Pakatan Harapan took over the reins of power in May.