Urging chief minister Lim Guan Eng to continue with the programme, which recently received bad publicity from UMNO-owned press amid the party's allegation that the money was derived from gambling revenues, the group expressed dismay that state Opposition Leader Azhar Ibrahim had called Penangites to return the money as a sign of protest over its alleged non-halal origin.
In the past few weeks, UMNO has been organising several made-for-media protests, gathering elderly individuals to announcing that they were returning the RM100 'compassionate allowance' received from the Penang state government.
Permatang Pasir state representative Saleh Man, however, reminded Penangites not to be influenced by "evil lies" from the state opposition, saying it had "run out of political capital".
"The contribution from horse racing revenue has not been channelled to the senior citizens' fund but is used for the state's poverty eradication programme (RAK) among non-Muslims," said Saleh, who is also deputy head of the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAIP).
'Now we know the truth'
|Zainab, Abu Bakar and Sambasivam|
Many among those who attended the event said the controversy generated by the media was merely another political play by local UMNO warlord Reezal Marican Naina Marican, who had been at the forefront of attacks against the chief minister.
Zainab Mat from Butterworth said she was fully convinced with the explanation from the state leadership.
"Only upon coming personally to listen to the state reps and Seberang Prai Municipal Council counsellors, that I learned about the truth of the whole issue," she said.
Abu Bakar Said, a former UMNO member from Bagan Ajam, said state officials had never visited suraus or mosques in the state during the Barisan Nasional administration, unlike the current practice by Pakatan Rakyat.
"The CM himself visits Muslims to show his appreciation to the seniors. This was never the case during BN rule," he added.
Sambasivam said he now knew the real facts behind the controversy and had previously "listened to only one side".