Better to make the living happy, exco explains move to stop funeral assistance

Some 200,000 registered senior citizens in Selangor will benefit from the shopping vouchers. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A Selangor executive councillor has defended the decision to replace the state’s assistance for funeral expenses with RM100 shopping vouchers, saying it was better to help “those who are alive”.

Siti Mariah Mahmud said the RM2,500 for funeral expenses meant the money went to the families but not the senior citizens.

“The new scheme is much better as RM100 will be given to them while they are alive,” said the health, welfare, women and family empowerment committee chairman.

She said under the old Skim Mesra Usia Emas, not all families could receive the money immediately after the death of a loved one.

There were also times when family members fought over the money, she said, adding that there are mosques and suraus offering assistance for funerals and burials.

Siti Mariah Mahmud.

She was commenting on activist Kuan Chee Heng’s criticism of the decision to end the death benefit payment and replace it with the RM100 shopping voucher.

Kuan said the RM2,500 previously given had been a big help especially to families from the bottom 40, or B40, group.

He said axing the scheme was “smart” as it saved the state government a lot of money.

Last month, Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari announced that some 200,000 registered senior citizens would benefit from the shopping vouchers, costing the state RM20 million annually.

Siti Mariah said the decision was made based on feedback from senior citizens over the past several years