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'There should be a limit': Social activist raises concerns after single mum in Malaysia spends part of handout money on snacks

'There should be a limit': Social activist raises concerns after single mum in Malaysia spends part of handout money on snacks
Syed Azmi shared that a single mum in Malaysia had bought non-essential grocery items with part of her financial assistance funds.
PHOTO: Facebook/Syed Azmi

Are lower-income families on financial aid properly managing their money?

Not all perhaps, according to Malaysian social activist Syed Azmi who took to Facebook last Monday (Sept 11) to share how a single mum had spent part of her handout on non-essential items such as snacks

According to Syed Azmi, the mother had recently received a financial aid disbursement of over RM100 (S$29), and spent RM83 on groceries.

When she sent him the receipt of the items she had purchased however, he was startled to find that she had bought several tidbits such as sweets and chocolates instead of staple foods such as rice.

"I will buy rice tomorrow," the mother wrote in her subsequent message to Syed Azmi. She also explained that she was unable to transport the rice on the motorcycle she was riding that day.

Syed Azmi then asked: "Tell me why you bought expensive chrysanthemum tea and Cadbury chocolate?"

He also questioned why she had bought both the Chupa Chups lollipops and Cadbury chocolate, and not just one of the two.

The mother answered that she had bought the items to pacify her child who was crying and throwing a tantrum in the store.

'There should be a limit'

Speaking to Malaysian media mStar, Syed Azmi revealed that the woman is a single mum to four children, and her ex-husband was jailed for a criminal offence in 2021. 

The family currently relies on monthly assistance, after the woman's business ceased operations due to certain problems, he shared. 

It was not mentioned which Malaysian state this single mum is from.

Syed Azmi also lamented about the woman's tendency to justify her non-essential purchases with irrelevant excuses, The Rakyat Post reported.

Her purchases of of a chrysanthemum tea drink, packet of lollipops, satay fish snacks and chocolate had added up to RM15.50, Syed Azmi wrote.

Despite finding the woman's spending to be unwise, he acknowledged that she had reportedly admitted to being "wasteful" and recognised her mistake. 

According to The Rakyat Post, Syed Azmi added that he has accepted the woman's reasons for buying the items, but emphasised the need for her to prioritise buying an adequate amount of necessities to sustain her family through the month.

"I love children and it's okay to buy snacks, but there should be a limit," he wrote. 

Syed Azmi clarified that he has no authority to dictate how the funds are spent, but wants to understand and provide suggestions for improvement.

He also pointed out that organisations assisting lower-income families face challenges in providing sufficient aid and addressing the imprudent consumption behaviours of some recipients.

He emphasised that it is crucial to guide recipients to make informed purchases, especially for those who do not have a steady income.

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