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Bank Simpanan Nasional being insensitive to pensioners

August 11, 2017

Pensioners are not familiar with using ATM cards to retrieve their pensions as they are used to doing so with their passbooks instead.

COMMENT

Paul-Selva-Raj-bsnBy Paul Selva Raj

From early this year, Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN), the country’s so-called government bank, terminated the use of passbooks for pensioners. No more passbooks were allowed or would be updated, and pensioners were instructed to use their ATM cards instead to retrieve their pensions.

This action by BSN however shows a total disregard and contempt for the needs and welfare of pensioners.

Many pensioners, who are senior citizens, have depended on their passbooks to personally retrieve their pensions since day one.

Many pensioners have never used ATM cards. They feel safer and more comfortable using their passbooks not only to retrieve their pensions but to monitor their accounts.

With this new policy, which Fomca regards as harsh and cruel, pensioners, especially the older ones who have no experience or confidence in using the ATM machine, now have to depend on a third party to retrieve their pensions for them.

Hopefully, these individuals are honest. But if they are not, without a passbook, many pensioners would have great difficulty to checking whether the correct amount was withdrawn from their accounts.

It should be noted that there are many pensioners in their 70s and 80s. They often have to depend on their children or neighbours to drive them to the bank to retrieve their monthly pensions.

Now, they would also need the assistance of their children or neighbours to retrieve their pensions for them through the ATM machine.

What’s worse is that cash withdrawals from the counter are also not allowed unless the minimum amount is RM5,000, way above what most pensioners receive every month.

Additionally, without a passbook, they would face great difficulty in ensuring that the correct amount was withdrawn for them by a third party as it may be awkward to request for the ATM receipt.

Furthermore, the NCCC (National Consumer Complaints Centre) has received numerous complaints from bank customers that claim monies deposited have gone “missing”. Without a passbook, it is extremely difficult to monitor the movement of their monies.

What is particularly shocking is that some commercial banks, with their focus on profits, despite the policy of going paperless, have continued to allow senior citizens to maintain their passbooks.

BSN however appears to show a total disregard and contempt for consumers, especially senior citizens. Fomca appeals to the government to pressure BSN into reinstating the policy of allowing senior citizens to continue the use of their passbooks.

The government has announced its vision of “People First”. Surely, this must include the welfare and needs of senior citizens, especially pensioners.

For the purpose of efficiency, creating difficulties for senior citizens is both cruel and insensitive. Fomca calls on BSN as well as all banks to practice the policy of using passbooks, especially for senior citizens.

Fomca calls on the government of Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia as well as the Pension Department to ensure banks, especially so-called government banks, put the needs of senior citizens ahead of their policies and practices.

Often it is said that society is evaluated by how it treats its most vulnerable members. It is time the government seriously practice its slogan of “People First”.

Government institutions should lead by modelling “People First” policies and practices, so that the more profit-oriented institutions can follow their model.

In this case at least, BSN should follow the example of some commercial banks who are truly practising policies that put “People First”.

Paul Selva Raj is the secretary-general of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca).

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