Need to expedite RM150 shopping voucher distribution to Selangor’s senior citizens before state polls

Letter to editor

IN response to Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari’s statement a few months ago that all Selangor senior citizens will receive a special RM150 shopping voucher instead of the usual RM100 voucher this year, a large number of the seniors had applied to their relevant state representative’s office for the incentive.

It was expected to be given out before the state assembly is dissolved this Friday (June 23).  This year’s RM150 voucher was not dependent on one’s birthday date as an exception had been made to this rule.

Many senior citizens made fresh applications when it was made known to them that their old records were not found. Unfortunately, a large number of them have not received their vouchers to-date despite months having passed.

The RM150 shopping voucher will be very helpful to them during the present difficult times. The state assembly’s representative office has just two or three staff who can ill-manage the few thousand applications from each constituency which are later sent to the State Secretariat (SUK) for final verification.

This is a long process made more difficult by bureaucratic red tape. The vouchers can be mailed to the recipients without being subject to abuses due to the need to verify the recipient’s identity card numbers.

The Skim Mesra Usia Emas (SMUE) programme has for long been unsystematically organised when it was converted from the one-time death benefit of RM500 and was replaced with a yearly RM100 shopping voucher.

Many senior citizens have not even heard of this change or have received the voucher. Compare this with the Rahmah programme cash hand-outs which are so meticulously done with the help of the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) that involves millions of people from the nationwide B40 group.

Needless to say, the SMUE system needs to be streamlined to ensure that all senior citizens in Selangor get the benefits as intended. The problem mostly arises from the state assemblyman’s office due to shortage of staff and missing records. When a state representative is changed, the records tend to get lost.

It is time that all programmes for the benefit of Selangorians are solely handled by the state government. This is to ensure that records and data are not lost whenever there is a change of state assemblymen or even state government.

The main flaw with the voucher system is that it is based on whatever records that the state representative offices have. A lot of voters could have become senior citizens after the 2018 election and there are no records of them.

The voucher is and should be for all senior citizens in a constituency and should not necessarily be limited to voters. It will be discriminatory and illegal if it is otherwise. That data concerning voters can only be accessed from the Election Commission (EC) will be a further tedious process.

There is no need for the state reps to get involved in these programmes which can be better handled by the state government’s large number of civil servants. The state representatives should focus more on the problems of the people especially those concerning local government and their other complaints.

There are no local government elections in Selangor and the state representatives can do much for the people in addressing their municipal and residential problems.

Now that there is not much time left before the state elections are called, the Menteri Besar should come out with an expedited programme to roll out the vouchers to all Selangor senior citizens who have not received their voucher for this year.

This can be easily done by just considering the details in the identity card which will reveal the age of the person and his address as well as indicate the person’s voting constituency.

It can be done quickly if the government has the will. It must be noted that a few thousand senior citizens who qualify for the voucher have not received them. These citizens could have an impact on the outcome of the upcoming state elections. – June 20, 2023


V. Thomas
Sungai Buloh, Selangor

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: The Star

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