Should You Cash Out Your BB1M Book Vouchers?

The BB1M 1Malaysia book voucher was introduced by the government exclusively for Form Six and tertiary students to get them to read more books.

The books you buy do not have to be related to what you’re studying. You choose what you want to read. Twilight series or classic novels, your choice.

The vouchers cannot be exchanged for cash. However, some students do it anyways.

This has been causing a lot of headache for the government. Many problems have arisen. The police is now involved after some dodgy individuals have been going around campuses telling students they can get help to cash out the vouchers. Small book stores especially are offering such “services” to convert book vouchers to cash for students. Warnings have been given to students not to cash out the vouchers, or risk disciplinary action.

The voucher is derived from public funds. As taxpayers, we should always demand responsibility from our government and those people who are entrusted with the care of such funds.

But, as a student, should you cash out your 1Malaysia book vouchers?

Let us look this issue from an economic standpoint. A capitalist will tell you any day that everybody should act according to their own self interest. You do what is best for your own sake based on the limited options you have.

Let’s say you are an owner of a small book store.

By offering the “service” of converting book vouchers to cash, your unscrupulous book store gets a small profit. It is definitely not an easy decision to make considering the risks involved. Your license could be suspended. Your shop may even be closed down, for all we know. As a shop owner, you need to make a decision that is best for the interests of your small book store. The shop has to make profits so that you can expand your business.

What are your chances as an owner of a small shop lot book store to compete with those established bookstores with larger collections of books? According to Bernama, Kinokuniya Malaysia has redeemed up to RM80,000 worth of book vouchers, daily. How are other multi-chain book stores doing? Any of you going to Kedai Buku Tanjung to redeem your vouchers anytime soon?

Sometimes things are just not as easy as they seem.

I admit. I contemplated cashing out the vouchers myself. I may lose up to 20% of the cash value of the vouchers. But with the remaining cash, I would be able to buy more books at a used bookstore. More books at cheaper cost. Why should the government be upset, because in the end I would still use the cash to buy books? Why should you be upset?

Can you see it now?

Everybody can benefit. Small or big. But, not everybody will be happy. We cannot make everybody happy, can we?

Let us discuss another situation.

What if the converted cash from the book vouchers is used for other purposes?

To appreciate this, we need to understand how a person usually makes decisions.

Generally, a person makes decisions based on what will increase the quality of the person’s existence. The quality of life of a student who is poor will be increased if the student uses the converted cash to buy a mattress to sleep better and by eating more nutritious food. Better sleep and a healthier body are more important than having the ability to purchase books to read.

It’s an exceptional case. But there are many of us who are not so fortunate.

Some students might consider those book vouchers as a blessing. Some students really sat down and thought hard about what books they should buy. Don’t you just love the government? I love the government. Really, I do.

Some other students may see those vouchers as an opportunity to get quick money. Minus the “administration fees”, of course.

In the end, it is really a matter of perspective.

If you decide to convert your vouchers, don’t be so lazy and just put them on Mudah.

Read more, please.

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Recently graduated from law school and now seeking a suitable firm for pupillage. Say hello to him on Twitter at @izwanzakaria. Please mind the gap, it's growing daily here in Malaysia.

Posted on 1 February 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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