Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welfare O Welfare... where art thou?

The Welfare Ministry is supposed to take care of the needs of poor, destitute Malaysians. I’m pretty sure they have millions of such people all over Malaysia but surely it does not take the Ministry’s workers , two to three years to get their act together?
Recently Jumble Station took several of the single parents and poor families they had been caring for in Angsana, Subang Jaya to the week long registration exercise conducted by Kelana Jaya’s MP Loh Gwo-Burne for the elderly, the disabled, single parents and families in need.
For single mother Mariam, this is her fourth time registering her need as a single mother earning only RM650 with three growing boys to care for. The first time she registered, the Ministry officials promised to pay her a visit to officially check out her situation. Apparently one official did but left a message with Miriam’s youngest son, 10 years old then to have the mum call the Welfare Ministry. Needless to say she never got the message. In 2009 Jumble Station helped her to apply a second time, six months went by, nothing.
A check revealed that the officer in charge of her case had quit and no one bothered to follow up on her backlog. Another application was put in last year and another officer dropped by to verify her situation while Mariam was at work, peeped in her rented flat saw that she had ‘nice’ things like sofa, /TV etc and concluded that she isn’t poor! Helloooo... those items were given to her by Jumble Station as per our policy of helping needy single parents and she shouldn’t have been deprived of her Welfare benefit because of this cursory glance. One phone call could have cleared this up but no.. and now three years later, Miriam is still struggling without a sen from Welfare.
Yeong Fong Pheng and her husband Victor are disabled or OKU because they are both deaf and mute. Both are registered with the Welfare Ministry and have been issued OKU cards each. Victor gets a small sum each month but his wife gets nothing. They have a five year old daughter and Victor works as a store keeper for about RM800 a month. Yeong’s attempts to find sewing work that she can do at home has been unsuccessful, she is illiterate and mute making it really tough to communicate with her. For some strange reason, Welfare has neglected her need for money to help raise her little girl!
Grace Ramayah is wheel chair bound. She has been getting welfare benefits when she was in Klang but when she relocated to Angsana to be with her son who has since found a job as a contract worker in a factory, her Welfare payments stopped. Frantic enquiries revealed that Klang welfare officers regard her case as ‘case closed’ since she no longer lives in Klang while the Subang Welfare Department says she has to put in a fresh application. That was done but to date, nothing has come out of it.
Panjalai has just turned 60 and had herself registered as part of the “Usia Emas” group. She has no idea what kind of benefits is available for senior citizens in Malaysia. She registered in the hope that the Welfare Dept will give her something, anything to assist her because her son is still unemployed and her daughter has not finished her studies at Help University where she was given a scholarship.

They and several hundred others who registered at Desa Mentari during the week long exercise were told to come back on Jan 30th Sunday at 9am to meet with Welfare Department officials over their needs, JS sent them over at 8.30am and they sat through till 11am only to realise they had been duped into becoming one of the “two hundred strong crowd” present to welcome a Gerakan politician! All they got from their Sunday wait was the same lame “we’ll look into your situation and don’t call us, we’ll call you!” promise. It’s time the Welfare Ministry in Subang have a real heart for those in need, forget the politics, just get the money to where it’s needed most – the hard core poor!

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