Did Muhyiddin make an empty promise on aid for disabled, Nie Ching asks

KULAI MP Teo Nie Ching today grilled Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff on the promise made by the former administration to increase social welfare assistance for the disabled to RM1,000.

Teo questioned whether the assurance of increased aid made by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin was an empty promise.

The Kulai lawmaker asked during question time in the Dewan Rakyat today when the government will increase the Social Welfare Department’s monthly assistance for the disabled, in line with Muhyiddin’s promise last year to increase the quantum from RM200 to RM300 to RM 1,000.

Detailing the assistance channelled, Siti Zailah (Rantau Panjang-PAS) said aid for children has been increased from RM100 to RM150 and for families, the quantum could be up to RM1,000.

As for the assistance for people with disabilities who are employed, the quantum was increased from RM400 to RM450.

“It has been almost 11 months since December 3 (last year) to today, what are the efforts taken by the ministry and the deputy minister to ensure that the proposal to increase the quantum to RM1,000 is implemented?” Teo asked while referring to Muhyiddin’s Facebook post on the issue.

“Or is the deputy minister trying to say that the promise made by the former prime minister at that time was an empty promise?

“Should we ask the Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka to amend the definition of ‘segera’ (immediately),” Teo said, referring to the word used by Muhyiddin.

“(Looks like) immediately is not three minutes from now but one year from now,” she added.

Responding to this, Siti Zailah said the aid is given based on the needs of a household instead of individuals and certain families have received more than RM1,000.

She added that the proposal also needs to get the green light from the Finance Ministry.

“We have tried to moot this proposal to the Finance Ministry. As we all know, it depends on the approval and the country’s finances,” Siti Zailah said.

“For example, if we increase it to RM1,000, that will result in a higher cost to the government,” the PAS lawmaker added.

Teo insisted the promise made was unrealistic and empty, which led to Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (Pasir Mas-PAS) interjecting, saying that “a promise is not the holy scripture (janji bukan kitab suci)”.

Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub (Machang-BN) asked whether the Welfare Department is facing a manpower crunch as there have been complaints of delays in channelling aid during the pandemic.

“Sometimes we visit the sick, and three months later they have died.

We were told that the welfare officer has yet to arrange for aid. Are these delays due to the shortage of manpower or are there other factors?” he asked in a supplementary question.

Siti Zailah responded that the ministry had opened online complaint channels as the epidemic had restricted the mobilisation of officers on the ground.

“We have ensured that those who are eligible have received their aid. If there is anyone who has been left out, they can contact us and we will act immediately,” she said.