SEVERAL veteran artistes and members of the creative industry in Johor have received a one-off RM500 aid from the state government to help them get through the hardships brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among the recipients of the aid under the third Ihsan Johor economic stimulus package is 63-year-old veteran singer Siti Zaleha Abdul Hamid, better known as Zaleha Hamid, who is bedridden after suffering a stroke.
Her husband, Ungku Sulaiman Ungku Aziz, who has been taking care of her since 2019, said they were financially depending on their children and on monthly assistance from the Welfare Department.
“We are very thankful for the financial and food aid given as it helps ease our burden,” he said after receiving the sum from Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad at the couple’s house in Taman Uda Utama.
Hasni also presented the aid to veteran actor Abd Rashid Yahaya, popularly known as Mat Sentol, at his home.
“I am glad the state government has not forgetten about people like me.
“I hope it will continue helping those in need,” said the 88-year-old.
Another beneficiary is wushu practitioner Lee Swee Seng, 34, who lost his source of income when the pandemic hit last year.
“People in my industry were forced to stop working because wushu studios and events were not allowed to operate, hence severely affecting our income,” he said and expressed his appreciation to the state government.
Indian classical dance teacher K. Usha Rani, 30, said the aid was timely for those in the creative industry.
“I have not been able to conduct dance classes, yet I still have to pay rent for the premises.
“There was a short period during the recovery movement control order last year when we were allowed to operate, but not many parents allowed their children to attend classes for fear of getting infected,” she added.
The RM500 financial assistance was disbursed to 958 people in the creative industry, said Hasni.
“We have not forgotten the contributions of the creative industry.
“Though not a big amount, the aid is a gesture of appreciation for their sacrifices and hard work as these artistes are among those affected by the pandemic.
“I hope it helps to lighten their burden in some way.
“The state government is always ready to assist in the face of the economic instability brought on by the pandemic,” he stressed.
Hasni said the state had also channelled assistance to 11 federations of associations registered under the Johor Cultural Council and 10 district cultural councils through the economic stimulus package announced in June.