KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Malaysia Independent Living Association for Disabled (MILAD) today said that the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) had no right to amend the Social Welfare Department’s (JKM) cash payment system for the local disabled community. 

MILAD president pastor Sia Siew Chin said the ministry failed to abide by their own Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities 2016-2022 which states that the disabled community must be consulted before any changes are made to their welfare. 

Sia pointed out that the ‘Core Strategy 6’ in the plan clearly states that the disabled community’s participation is necessary in any decision-making process but in this case it wasn’t hence the change is void.

“The action plan clearly states in Strategy 6 that the handicapped community must be consulted as well but when they switched to this new JKMPay (JKM Cashless Assistance Payment Pilot Project) system they didn’t consult us. 

“So how can we believe that this new system is good for us when they themselves didn’t follow their own plan of action and made decisions on their own? It seems like they went against their own plan,” Sia told Malay Mail when contacted.

“Since this is wrong and goes against the rules then I feel they don’t have the right to make these changes and it shouldn’t happen.”

MILAD is part of seven groups representing people with disabilities (PWD), the other six being the Independent Living Centre Malaysia, Persatuan Pemulihan Orang Cacat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysian Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy Association, Boleh Space, Persatuan Orang Cacat Johor Baru and the Malaysia Spinal Injuries Association.

In April last year, KPWKM minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun launched JKMPay 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.

The move however came under heavy scrutiny from the community and protests ensued.

The group had conducted a protest on January 25, 2022 where they arrived at the lobby of the KPWKM building to protest the ministry’s cashless aid programme and to submit a memorandum to halt it.

The group was left disappointed when they were not allowed to submit the memorandum directly to the minister and was told only a representative will meet them. 

Eventually they were allowed to meet with deputy minister Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff who said she will address their concerns in due time.

Following that, six NGOs involving the disabled community held an online press conference yesterday to highlight a meeting they had with KPWKM on February 24 and 25 where they were meant to discuss the new JKMPay system.

Sadly at the recent meeting it was the same story as Sia said neither Rina nor the deputy were present, only representatives and the secretary of the ministry were there and not all their questions were answered.

Sia said she hoped they would return to the previous method of cash disbursement which was so much more convenient as they would get the entire aid in cash and can spend it however they want to.

“The shops aren’t convenient for everyone to frequent and we all have different needs. Some may need it for medicine, others for food, some need it to pay the optometrist to check their spectacles and so on.

“With the ministry now limiting the cash to half and telling us we must go to designated shops then what if the shops don’t have what we need or are located too far from us? 

“What if there’s an emergency and they need the money for it? Then what do they do then? 

“That’s why we are strongly opposing this move as it takes away our rights and I have to say again that the ministry did not abide by their own plan of action hence this move should be null and void,” she added.