Monday January 14, 2013
Veterans Department urged to be more pro-active
KUCHING: The Government should push the Home Ministry’s Veterans Department to be more pro-active in carrying out its functions.
Retired Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar made a statement to this effect yesterday when he talked about the small number of veterans who had been given awards for their bravery in the line of duty during the Emergency period.
“Many have passed on, but there are a few left. Their number is getting smaller so the Government must actively look into their welfare. I wish I had looked into this much earlier when I was IGP, when their children were younger,
“I wonder whether their children had ever been considered for scholarships particularly those who lived in the interior of Sarawak and Sabah.
“You can’t make them compete with children in cities like Kuala Lumpur on the basis of meritocracy. It took them (Sarawak and Sabah’s interior children) hours, even days, to get to school and they don’t have electricity, proper water and other necessities,” he said
Hanif pointed out that the veterans should be given some special treatment as the time they served the country was extremely difficult.
“Today, perhaps it might be already a little too late for them, but the Government must take note of this issue for the sake of those who come after them,” he said.
Hanif suggested that tracking down and updating information about the heroes and veterans (regardless of whether they are pensionable or not) should be made part of the Key Performance Index (KPI) of those who serve in the Veterans Department.
“In fact they should make it a point to meet these vets and look into their welfare,” he said.
“Take Wilfred Gomez Malong, for example. He left the service early and was a decorated hero. Because he left early he was not entitled to a pension.
“That also means Gomez and other like him are not entitled to proper medical benefits.
“His predicament is just like any other members of the public although the Government had acknowledged his valour,” said Hanif.
Hanif also hoped that soon, much like the more effective military Veterans Department, benefits and welfare aid for police veterans could be inherited by their immediate families.
Hanif also appealed to successful corporate and public figures as well as politicians to do their bit in lending a hand to the veterans by giving back to society.
He said the Government had given opportunities to enable some people to become successful in various fields, but without the services of those who defended the country, there might not have been any Government.