Tawau Dec 11, 2011: Foreigners were among the thousands who turned up to obtain the 1Malaysia People's Assistance (BR1M) forms distributed by the Inland Revenue Board entitling those who qualify for RM500 assistance from the Government.
Police had to be called in to control the situation getting out of hand here.
Expressing disappointment over the situation, Kalabakan MP Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh, said certain quarters had apparently misunderstood the aim of the assistance. Besides, he said, the exercise did not involve any elected representative which he deemed as giving hardship, especially those from the rural areas.
The one-off cash assistance to heads of households with a gross income of RM3,000 per month and below was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the 2012 Budget. The centres were open from 8am till 5pm and registration ends on Jan. 10.
Some 25,000 forms were distributed on the first day, here, with the hopeful recipients showing up at the IRB office at Sin Onn Road since 5.30am.
Ghapur said they had to travel quite a distance to reach the IRB office.
"Those who went there may not qualify to obtain the assistance despite having spent a large amount of money just for the trip," he said.
Inland Revenue Board (IRB) Liaison officer Jumiati Siji said the massive turnout could be due to the people not understanding the requirements and this may have prompted the foreigners to also try their luck.
Jumiati said additional police personnel had to be called in to ensure no untoward incidents. "We estimated that some 106, 200 forms will be given out this month alone for Semporna, Kunak and Tungku,' she said.
At Kuhara Road, a mad rush resulted in hundreds of forms being torn and crumpled. Mutual Sakinah, 63, from Kg Ice Box said the incident occurred when two men grabbed the forms about to be distributed by the duty officer.
"The two were then swarmed by others who wanted to get them, causing the forms to be torn and crumpled. She said IRB should have create a line outside the office, particularly for the elderly and ill.
"We were afraid of being crushed because everybody was scrambling for them (forms), "she said, adding she nearly fell twice when her slippers were stepped on by other people. The single mother of four arrived at Wisma Hasil at 7am by taxi along with her friend Beche Manje, 68, another single mother. Both managed to get the forms two hours later after officials said the forms could be photocopied.
In KUNAK, Silam Member of Parliament, Salleh Kalbi, decided to distribute the forms in town in view of there being no IRB office in the district.
He said the forms could also be obtained from the Sapang Building communication department. He said he received complaints that some of the forms were being sold for RM15 each.
"This should not happen as it is supposed to be distributed free," he said, and advised those who come across exploiters to report them to the police.
In LABUAN, Member of Parliament, Datuk Hj Yussof Hj Mahal, advised the public not to rush for the forms, saying there were 90,000 copies available at the IRB office as well as in his office.
"My office has 10,000 forms for distribution to village heads and community leaders as back-up to the IRB in case any eligible recipients are left out," he said.
He cautioned that the assistance was only meant for Malaysians of all races and not for IMM13 holders (Filipino immigrants).
"Even if more than one family live under the same roof, each family is also entitled to the BR1M scheme," said Yusof.