IN 2012, the government had set aside a  whopping RM33.2 billion for subsidies to ease the burden of the people, and this included RM17 million for petro-leum, education aid (RM6.6 billion), welfare (RM3.2 billion) and electricity (RM1.8 billion).

However, the subsidies, which were intended to help the people in the low-income bracket, is being enjoyed by every single Malaysian, be it the multi-millionaires right down to labourers and farmers.

To address the problem of getting the aid directly to the targeted group, the government introduced the 1Malaysia People’s Aid, better known as BR1M, and through this touch-point initiative, deserving Malaysians in the low-income bracket benefit directly.

The implementation of BR1M is seen by the government to be the most effective method to alleviate the people’s burden in light of the rising cost of living.

Since it has proven to have such a huge impact, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently indicated that BR1M would not be a one-off assistance but would be continued.

Muhyiddin also said that if the economy was doing well and the government’s income was stable, the current RM500 aid given to each household earning less than RM3,000 a month and single unmarried individuals earning less than RM2,000 eligible to receive RM250, would even be increased.

However, all this would only be possible if the government continues to be in power.

In the implementation of the first BR1M, disbursed last month, some 4.2 million households received the cash aid. The government, in the long-run, would also rationalise the subsidies for petrol and food.

Furthermore, the impact of BR1M on the people was stronger than from other type of government subsidy for goods and services.

Similar to BR1M, in the 2013 Budget, the government announced 111 touch-points which would benefit all levels of society, but how many of these are widely-known to the public?

How many of us are aware of the existence of the Kebajikan Rakyat 1 Malaysia, or KAR1SMA, where some RM1.4 billion is allocated annually to provide aid to some 500,000 recipients nationwide?

The more popular initiatives seem to be the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia, 1Malaysia Clinic and the 1Malaysia People’s Menu.

In the case of K. Kaliamah, 41, of Jasin, Malacca, she did not know about the various aid she could get as her husband, S. Amaiyar Parthevor, 47, became disabled after losing the use of his right hand in a road accident.

Everything seems to have happened coincidentally for their family, and they recently obtained two sewing machines through the KAR1SMA initiative from the Welfare Department.

Since her husband’s mishap in 1995, Kaliamah was unaware of the existence of the aid for the disabled provided by the Welfare Department and she had to struggle to make ends meet for the family by sewing dresses and curtains for customers near her home in Kampung Ayer Merbau.

When the family discovered they could apply for the welfare aid, they had to first register Amaiyar Parthevor with the Welfare Department as a disabled person while they discovered KAR1SMA by chance from a welfare officer who happened to come to their tailor shop.

This was a turning point for the family and they took it upon themselves to help others in need in the Jasin district.

Kaliamah said that her husband, since receiving the KAR1SMA aid, had helped many people, especially the disabled and single mothers, regardless of race and religion, set up or expand their businesses.

The country’s leaders, civil servants and community leaders are not the only ones who should be responsible for creating awareness about the various aid initiatives aimed to help the needy and implemented by the government. The people, too, must take the initiative to find out what can help them ease their burden.

It might also help if we have more people like Amaiyar Parthevor, who himself benefitted from the touch-point initiative and is now assisting others to enjoy the helping hand from the government.