Deputy minister pledges to revise Social Welfare Dept’s cashless assistance payment pilot project

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Disability rights groups protest against the 'JKM Cashless Monthly Assistance Payment Cashless Project Without Cash' initiative at the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development in Putrajaya January 25, 2022. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Disability rights groups protest against the 'JKM Cashless Monthly Assistance Payment Cashless Project Without Cash' initiative at the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development in Putrajaya January 25, 2022. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — The Social Welfare Department’s (JKM) Cashless Assistance Payment Pilot Project for persons with disabilities will be revised, said Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff.

Addressing concerns from at least six groups protesting the programme that was implemented by her ministry, Siti Zailah said that the matter will be brought to Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun.

“So God willing, we will discuss the issue among the highest leadership, including the minister, to see how it can be resolved and provide the best care for persons with disabilities.

“We are currently studying the programme as it is still in the pilot stage and actually only involves new recipients, meaning (currently) not all are part of this programme,” she told the media in front of the KPWKM building in Putrajaya.

During the protest, Malaysia Independent Living Association for Disabled (MILAD) vice-president Noor Nuha Aziz stressed that the ministry must consult representatives from the community to better understand their basic needs.

He said that policymaking without consultation will only result in more inconvenience for those affected.

“We are here not only just to protest the programme, but we also want to emphasise ‘nothing about us, without us’, which means do not decide any policy without consulting us.

“Because for more than 30 years, we have been hoping for engagement from the party that was supposed to take care of our welfare but the engagement did not happen.

“In the end, the policy that was implemented for us will result in more inconvenience rather than improvement,” he said.

At noon today, six groups representing persons with disabilities arrived at the lobby of the KPWKM building to protest the ministry’s cashless aid programme and send a memorandum to halt it.

After demanding that they be allowed to submit the memorandum directly to the minister, the groups were in uproar as the ministry only sent a representative to meet them.

Moments later, Siti Zailah arrived at the KPWKM building to address the matter and listen to the groups’ concerns about the cashless aid programme.

When the protesters asked for a timeframe on the ministry’s engagement with the community, Siti Zailah simply said, “We will address your concerns as soon as possible.”

The six groups were MILAD, Malaysia Spinal Injury Association (MASIA), Independent Living and Training Centre Malaysia (ILTC), Society of Chinese Disabled Person Malaysia, Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (Petpositive) and Malaysian Visually Impaired Association.

In April last year, Rina launched JKM’s Cashless Assistance Payment Pilot Project for persons with disabilities, whereby half of the approved cash aid would be distributed through a cashless card dubbed JKMPay.

The programme, which was launched with the cooperation of Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd (BIMB), only allowed the cashless card to be used at stores registered with the bank.

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