Saturday, April 23, 2011

A little help goes a long way, for the senior citizens of Penang

Judging from the initial response 'warga emas' (senior citizen) programme in Penang where senior citizens are given an annual RM100 handout got off to an encouraging start this morning.

Some 115,000 residents of the state, aged 60 and above, had registered to receive the handouts in a programme that was launched last year and which drew flak from Pakatan Rakyat's critics in BN, especially Umno.

The latter's broadside that money for the handouts had come from sources of revenue deemed 'haram' from the Islamic standpoint was expected to stymie the appeal of the programme for Muslims.

But the posse of senior citizens, comprising Malays, Chinese and Indians, that turned up at Bukit Jambul in Batu Maung this morning for the event suggested that questions about the legitimacy of the handouts' origins were not a forbidding constraint.

PKR assemblyman for Batu Maung and state executive councilor for religion, Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said he was encouraged by what he saw at the bank outlet in Bukit Jambul where the RM100 vouchers were to be cashed.

NONEHe said he arrived more than two hours before the bank outlet opened at 9.30am and there were already senior citizens milling in the tented area outside.

"The signs are that the response of senior citizens to this year's programme would be better than last year," said Malik, who was at hand to supervise the handing out of vouchers by a platoon of party workers.

For the poor, RM100 goes a long way

According to Malik, some 4,300 senior citizens had registered for the entitlement in the adjoining state constituencies of Bayan Lepas and Batu Maung. The number exceeded the figure for last year which was 2,586.

Buns, mineral water and hot drinks were dispensed while the eligible citizens waited for the bank to open and their numbers to be called.

NONEBy noon some 500 warga emas had already collected their dues.

Eligible recipients have a full month in which to collect the handouts.

"I don't think we are going to have a problem with eligible Muslim recipients," opined Malik after observing the crowds that turned up at Bukit Jambul today.

"The sum may be small but for the poor a hundred ringgit goes a long way," he said.

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