Why is the federal government asking rural hardcore poor Dayaks to fill up Internal Revenue Department (IRD) forms before collecting their gift of RM500?
Strange as it may sound this is one of the conditions listed for recipients of the government’s RM500 aid announced by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak recently.
In addition Sarawak’s poor must also contend with the cost of travel to the nearest IRD office to collect their gift.
Chiding the federal government directive, state PKR chief Baru Bian said: “This is the most practical way to disperse the money to those families in the rural areas.
“Calling them to town to fill IRD (Inland Revenue Department) forms is not only not practical, but it is also exerting a financial burden on the rural people.
“Just to take RM500, they may have to spend much more than that. Moreover, all the rural families do not pay income tax and thus do not have any IRD form.”
Bian suggested that the government use the offices of district officers, elected representatives and Tuai Rumah (community headmen) to disperse RM500 to the families in the rural areas earning less than RM3,000.
Bian, who is also the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, was commenting on the RM500 which is to be given to families whose combined incomes are less than RM3,000 per month.
“The only way to solve this problem is just to distribute the money through their elected representatives or Tuai Rumah as almost all the rural people earn less than RM3,000.
“There is no need to fill the form. Let the money be their Christmas gift,” he said.
The money was part of allocation mentioned in the 2012 budget by Najib, who is also the Finance Minister.
‘They always forget Sabah and Sarawak’
While welcoming the financial assistance to the poor people, Bian said that the government should have taken into consideration the situations in Sarawak and Sabah when deciding on how to disperse the money.
“It is possible that when Najib announced the whole thing, he must have forgotten about conditions in Sarawak.
“I think unconsciously they (federal leaders) always forget Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.
Bian believed that the distribution of the money as far as Sarawak is concerned cannot be done before the general election.
“If you ask them to fill the IRD forms, even after the election, it will not be completed.
“It is possible also that they want to use the money as ‘candies’ for the coming election,” he added.
Out of 2.4 million people, about 70% are living in the rural areas who are mostly Dayaks. Some 50% of them are in the hardcore category.