Monday, 1 March 2010

Appreciation for Penang's senior folks

When the RM100 Senior Citizens Appreciation scheme was announced by the Penang government last year, I had always wanted to register my aged aunt into the scheme. She's well over 70, unmarried and had been taking care of my two children ever since they were born. And she had been staying with me since I was small too. However, there had been one delay after another in the past year, and I hadn't been able to go to the DAP service centre in Bukit Mertajam even though the place is so near the Kampung Baru market where we usually go for our morning marketing.

During the state open house in Bukit Mertajam about 10 days ago, I was reminded by the friendly master of ceremony that it was still possible to register anyone over 60 years old until the 8 Mar 2010 deadline. I'm glad to mention here that I've finally managed to register my aunt in the programme last Saturday.

As the deadline approaches, there has been a flurry of newspaper reports in the past few days. Firstly, on 24 Feb, the state executive councillor in charge of the health, welfare, caring society and environment committee, Phee Boon Poh, said that the programme was open to all regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. It was introduced to recognise the sacrifices and contributions by senior citizens to society. Charity, he said, would only succeed when it was done with sincerity and love from the heart. "The state government will continue to reach out to ensure that the contributions of senior citizens are appreciated,” he added. Under the programme, those aged 60 and above can register at any constituency service centre to obtain RM100 per year in recognition for their contributions to society.

And today, Phee said that the Penang government would still accept applications after the 8 Mar 2010 deadline but the payment to these folks would be made at a much later date as all their details must be verified. "For those that registered with us earlier, we hope the money can handed out beginning of April. I will confirm the date later," he added.

Not surprisingly, there were people who tried to run down the programme. The chief minister commented that certain parties had been making slanderous comments. "They said this was a plot to increase DAP’s membership. We don’t need to increase our membership this way. The state has extra money and we want to share it with the people no matter what their political views are, that is the meaning of a caring and sharing state government."

RM100 is not much for a single applicant but of course, if all the senior citizens in Penang do register, it's going to cost the government a fair bit of money, possibly close to RM12 million per year  Personally, I think it is well-meant and a very noble effort. I would like to see the other states in the country emulate it.

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