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