Thursday, 13 June 2013
Penang senior citizen appreciation programme
It was in the first half of last month that we received my aunt's copy of the letter from the Penang government regarding the distribution of RM100 in this year's Senior Citizens Appreciation Programme.
As my aunt was already warded at the USM Hospital in Bertam, it was up to me to go collect the money for her at the Maybank branch in Seberang Jaya. Even if she wasn't warded, it would have been very difficult for her to go personally to the bank.
But first, I had to go see my nearest state assemblyman to obtain a Letter of Indemnity. I had already learnt the hard way that the banks would require this letter before they could release any money. So in the morning of 18 May 2013, I made my way to the Maybank branch nearest my house to get this letter and later at about noon, my son and I stopped by their Seberang Jaya branch to collect the money on my aunt's behalf.
As it turned out, this would now be the last RM100 that she would ever collect from the state government. She passed away on the next day.
I was commenting to my wife yesterday that good though this Senior Citizens Appreciation Programme was, the Penang government could certainly try to improve on it. What I was thinking aloud about was that instead of giving out a flat RM100 contribution to all registered voters in Penang who are at least 60 years old, why not structure the programme such that the older senior citizens would be eligible for more?
For example, RM100 could continue to be given to people above 60 years old but RM150 could be given to those above 70 years old and RM200 to those who are 80 years and older. The rate would increase with every 10 years of a senior citizen's age. And the Penang government can afford to be even more generous if they want to, within budget constraints, of course!
I am sure that these increased contributions would not unduly overburden the Penang government. After all, the number of people that would be eligible under this suggested structured scheme would decrease as their age brackets go up. Personally, I doubt there would be many senior citizens who are 90 years old or older. But think of the goodwill in return. Effectively, the extra contribution would recognise the citizen's seniority in the state even more.
As a footnote, I need to add that as my aunt's closest relative, I have already submitted her death certificate to the local DAP office here in Bukit Mertajam. This is not about collecting the one-time bereavement contribution from the state but rather, to act responsibly to ensure that the file on my aunt can at last be closed.