Should I Sell my BB1M Vouchers?

Recently, there was a rather huge debate in a Facebook group. The topic? It was about BB1M vouchers. A particular FB user (I assume an existing student) threaten (this word used very loosely here) that he will report other students are who selling their book vouchers, or trading them for cash.

The trading or selling of BB1M vouchers is not an unusual practice, and in fact many people are doing this since the BB1M scheme was implemented by the government a few years ago. The market price ranges from RM150 to RM200 cash for RM250 BB1M vouchers.

Students have justified their actions of selling/trading their BB1M vouchers for cash by saying that they need cash more than books. However, as my former lecturer had put it wisely: "These book vouchers are people's money.. tax payers' money.. your family, friends who contribute..which soon will be our turn. If you do not need the voucher, don't take it. You would not like to see this kind of abuse done too. Be empathetic. It's not being heroic or about moral. But it's doing the right thing."

My sentiments exactly.

My take on this issue is simple: Why should I trade my vouchers for something at a lesser value? My cash vouchers are worth RM250 and I should be getting something that is worth RM250 in return, whether in cash value or tangible items like books. Another advantage for using the BB1M vouchers to buy books (which is actually the original intentions of getting the vouchers, really.. BB1M = Baucer Buku 1 Malaysia..hello?) is that I will be getting receipts, which in turn could be used to claim tax.

We can not simply justify things by saying that we "think we need 'X' more". Let's say we put this in a different scenario: will we use the money given to us to attend a training course to instead buy a laptop for our own because we think need it more?

Just a food for thought.

Before I get accused of being insensitive to people's needs, let me say that I understand where you are coming from; that not everyone needs a book and need cash more for other essentials. But my point is, we need to strike a balance in the things we do. For this case, at the end of the day, it is about accountability. We can continue to attack and blame the government for corruption and all but the underlying fact here is that we are the same as them if we are doing the very same thing.

I will end here with this:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi


  1. (From the perspective of an university student)
    "If you do not need the voucher, don't take it".

    If I knew the limitations of said voucher, I would've probably done so. But not everyone is up to date with the latest rules and regulations the government makes these days...

    I took the vouchers thinking I could use it the same way as last year or the year before know, the '80% books 20% others' ratio. I would be okay with that.Then I find out this year that I can only buy educational books or things related to my field of study. Pretty disappointed.

    I'm a computing student, where information is easier to find with Google than a book that could get outdated in a year or two. I thought about buying a novel, but if I don't read it, that's just as big of a waste as not spending the vouchers anyway.

    So I traded it in for RM200 and used most of it for some stationary and a pretty expensive art book. (because collecting artwork of things I like have longer lasting value than an educational book that I would use a few times and never see it ever again. Also, artbooks are considered manga/comics in Kinokuniya, so I couldn't use the vouchers anyway.)

    I wasted RM50 of tax payers money. Was it worth it? Yes, because of that stupid ruling.

    I won't say my actions were right. I won't say they can even be justified. But I wasn't wrong either. It may have been illegal to trade it in for cash, but what other choice would I have had? They would just stay in my pocket until they expired.

    For me, why buy educational books that wouldn't last more than half a year based on my subjects?
    Why buy novels that I wouldn't even bother reading, just to make use of the money?

    I would love to buy other books that pique my interests, but that's not allowed. So I payed 1/5 of the voucher value to buy whatever I want because 'I need X more' than what this voucher allowed.

    Usage of the BB1M voucher is subjective, changing from person to person. And that's what happened to me.

    Your opinion is your own, I respect that. I just felt the need say all this because the situation made it this way. Am I blaming the government? Obviously. Do I feel bad about it? Not really.

    Because 'the underlying fact here is that we are the same as them if we are doing the very same thing.' That's just how life is these days~

  2. It is both right and wrong to sell the vouchers. The worst thing about the vouchers is that we aren't allowed to purchase stationery only. We are only allowed a certain percentage. As a design student, stationery is like my bread and butter. We don't need books. So I sell my vouchers to purchase stationery with the cash.

  3. sometimes... i think that if we dont need it we can just give them to other people who need it. why sell it and get money when u get it for free??

  4. 1. Wait what? We can claim tax deduction for our book purchase with BB1M Vouchers? I thought we couldn't since it wasn't part of our income. (But I don't have evidence to back these up).

    2. People are free to do what they want with the vouchers, if they sell it off and are caught, be prepared to face the consequences. However, trading RM250 book vouchers for RM150-200 doesn't mean that in the economy as a whole, someone is getting less. The person who bought it still gets to utilised it at its full value.

    So, is it a waste to taxpayer's money in fiscal terms? Not really, but it only satisfies one of the purpose, to buy books. It forgoes the other intention which is to be used by the student him/herself.
    So in social sense, its definitely a misuse.

    All in all, I do agree with your ending statement, its all about accountability :).

    1. Hi Adrian.

      Thanks for your input.

      Regarding your first point, you can refer here:

      It's under "F8" :)