MY dear friend who is in his late 60s was hit with a tragedy when he went for a major heart operation. While he was recuperating from the surgery, his beloved wife had a stroke, which left her immobile.
As the saying goes: "It never rains but it pours": He has exhausted all his savings, including EPF, forcing him to seek financial assistance from the Welfare Department. He managed to download the required application form from the department's website and duly went to the Social Welfare Department office at Jalan Pahang in downtown Kuala Lumpur. He was told to drop the form in a letter box when he got there.
That was four months ago. Till now, and after making more than 20 phone calls to the Jalan Pahang Welfare office (and none of the calls were answered), he went back to check on the progress of his application, taking his wheelchair-bound wife with him.
My friend was told that his application had been sent to the Kajang Welfare office and advised to go there.
While he was at the Jalan Pahang office, he saw several people on wheelchairs or crutches coming in to check on the progress of their applications for welfare assistance.
I would like to appeal to the decision makers at the Social Welfare Department to be more humane in managing the poor, disabled and weak.
I suggest that an officer be assigned at the counter of all offices of the Social Welfare Department throughout the country, to attend to the people who walk in. These officers should be responsible for advising the applicants seeking assistance or welfare recipients on the procedures involved. By doing this, the person in need would not be further distressed.
The staff at the Social Welfare Department, who are civil servants, must listen intently to the grievances and rumblings of the “rakyat” and ensure that they serve the public efficiently. What is the reason for the delay in processing the application for months when the applicant is obviously in dire need for financial help? Why weren’t the phone calls to the Jalan Pahang office not answered?
It is my utmost hope that the secretary-general of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, under which the Social Welfare Department is placed, will periodically visit the Welfare offices throughout the country and ensure that measures are instituted and implemented to make the service more humane and effective.
My poor friend is still in the lurch. Hopefully, someone in the Kajang Welfare office will process his application and help him. It is a tragedy to have a heart ailment, and even worse when your life partner suffers a stroke and becomes immobile.RAVINDRAN RAMAN KUTTY