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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh today expressed doubts about the plan to add 8,000 contract staff to the Social Welfare Department (JKM), and reminded Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun to not turn the department into her political machine.
In a statement, Yeoh, who is also a former deputy minister of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, said the plan did not address the actual shortages in JKM, and that more resources should go towards hiring child protection officers, psychology officers and welfare officers.
“The JKM restructuring plan through the addition of 8,000 staff on a contract basis as announced by the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun recently does not seem to reflect the real needs of JKM in the field.
“If minister Rina Harun is really serious about the restructuring of JKM, she must first give priority to the addition of child protection officers of around 1,500 people, psychological officers and welfare officers who need to investigate the requests of assistance,” she said.
Yeoh also questioned the proposed increase of 8,000 contract staff for JKM which is only one agency in the ministry, adding that JKM currently employs 6,000 people.
“Minister Rina Harun was reminded not to fill the vacancies of these 8,000 contract positions as she appointed Yayasan Kebajikan Negara (YKN) volunteers who were paid an allowance. Until now, she has not denied the allegation that they are members of Srikandi Bersatu,” Yeoh said.
Last Tuesday, Yeoh had asked Rina in the Dewan Rakyat if it was true that members of Bersatu’s women’s wing (Srikandi) were given preference to be appointed as volunteers under YKN, who were given a travel allowance of up to RM1,000 a month.
Rina replied that only 30 people were chosen and that the political background of the volunteers had not been questioned.
Yeoh said today that Rina should prove her commitment by first tabling the Social Work Profession Bill and appointing more child protection officers as well as ensuring they receive adequate training.
“She shouldn’t make the Social Welfare Department into her political branch. Social welfare work is not the same as political work.
“This is not a question of the appointment of political volunteers, this is a question of the lives of children which are at stake,” she said.
Yeoh also said that the proposed restructuring of JKM was initially made during Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s tenure as women, family and community development minister, after obtaining the results of a JKM Organisational Management Study conducted by the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) from December 2018 to May 2019.
On December 12, Rina had announced the move to hire the 8,000 contract workers in question, after a donation drive for flood victims at Kampung Datuk Keramat in Kuala Lumpur.
Last month, when tabling Budget 2021, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced the provision of 50,000 contract employment opportunities in the public sector, of which 8,000 would be allocated to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.