PETALING JAYA: Vasanthi Magadalane and 24 other armed forces veterans may have been walking in the rain with blistered feet for the last four days, but that has not dampened their spirits.
As they enter the home stretch of their march, which began last Sunday from Simpang Pulai, Perak, the group remains determined to submit a memorandum to the government tomorrow calling for improvements to welfare protection for the veterans.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Magadalane told FMT that army veterans have been pleading with the government to resolve matters pertaining to their welfare for the past eight years, to no avail.
She said this was why the group decided to make the journey on foot from Perak to Putrajaya to show that it was important that their demands were met.
The demands include rectifying a pension anomaly for veterans who retired before 2013, in line with higher pensions given to those who retired after changes were made to the Pensions Act that year.
“Warrant officers today earn up to RM3,000 but back then, we were only earning between RM1,200 and RM1,700.
“So, we feel our pension should be revised accordingly,” she said.
In June, some 2,000 veterans gathered at Tugu Negara to demand a review of the pension rate and pension payments for those who had served in the armed forces for fewer than 21 years.
Currently, only those who have served for at least 21 years are eligible for a monthly pension.
The Veterans’ Association of Malaysian Armed Forces reportedly said nearly 60% of army veterans who received monthly pensions were living below the poverty line.
Its president, Sharuddin Omar, said most of them were from the lower ranks and drew low salaries when they were in service.
Magadalane said the group was also urging the government to provide pensions to those who did not complete the required 21 years of service, and pardon those discharged for committing minor military offences.
“We are still military personnel who have served and protected the country, so why are we being treated this way?” she said.