And Welfare Officers Aint Helping
I have met many single mothers in the low-income group. Most are without jobs because they were homemakers when their husbands left them in the lurch, high and dry, with children to care for.
Some try to make ends meet by taking on jobs they know best like baby-sitting. Some do small businesses like selling nasi lemak. Some do odd jobs --- washing clothes in households or washing dishes in eateries.
Most have to depend on monthly welfare payment for their livelihood.
Now, the word "welfare" does not ring well for me.
Welfare cases with which I had been intimate in the past, had convinced me of the welfare department's inefficiency and ineffectiveness.
I hate generalising. But, I sense a general lack of commitment among most of its staff.
I tried to figure out why. It was not difficult. These people were dealing with welfare cases, with people who were UNDER privileged, who usually had nobody else to turn to.
You know, widows and orphans. Single mothers. They don't know who to turn to when the going gets so tough. And made tougher by bad-attitude welfare department staff.
Such a sense of empowerment these welfare dept staff felt they had. The lot of these people was in their hands.
But, that was years ago.
Perhaps things have changed. Perhaps, now there is dynamism. A renewed sense of commitment and will to help the underprivileged. To just simply do a good job.
I read a report that single mothers in Johor have been faced with delayed monthly payments.
They are entitled to RM300 a month. Yes, RM300. And this has been so delayed, some of these women have had to stop their children from schooling.
This state of affairs is so unacceptable to me.
What makes it even worse is the treatment these women have been getting from some of the welfare department staff.
Some things don't change, really.
Always so easy to mistreat people who have nowhere to turn to but to you. So, you know, (these women have to) deal with it.
Let's hope the Johor exco in charge of social development, Dr Robiah Kosai, keeps her word to resolve the problem.
She said the department is faced with problems of MISSING FILES, acute shortage of manpower and delayed receipt of federal funds.
Oh dear, Dr Robiah. Please tell us something new.