Proper counter & system for BKSS matters please, urges Pending ADUN

Picture from The Star – illustration purposes only

By John Isaac

DAP Pending assemblywoman, Violet Yong urged the state government to immediately set up a proper system and service counters to deal with Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) matters.

“Please tell the public where to go and who to approach for help. Do not make the public wait in limbo. I would like to know which department and who I can seek help from. Please make it clear in this august House.

“Besides, announcement from the state government should be made soonest regarding the appeal cases which are still pending verification, do let the appellants know the outcome of their appeal and for those who succeeded in their appeal, when are they going to receive the money. What about those who were paid partially? How much longer are they supposed to wait for the money to be paid out to them?” she pointed out in her debate speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.

According to Yong, those who have yet to receive their BKSS money are at a loss of where to find answers.

“Even the Talikhidmat Hotline at 555999 is not helpful either, the callers were told by the hotline operators that whatever details they have seen online are also the same as what they, the hotline operators, saw.

“The other standard answer given to the callers was that the state government has not given them any indication or made any announcement as to when the money will be made available for disbursement and the callers were asked to wait. In other words, there were no answers to people’s queries,” she lamented.

Already November

Yong pointed out that it is now already November and questioned how much longer the state government wished to make the people continue waiting for their BKSS assistance.

“Please stop making the people wait for nothing, it will only make the people angrier. Because a promise has been made and many are desperate due to either losing jobs or pay cut.

“The lower income group is the one that suffers the most in such situation. The most frustrating thing for them is that when they try to seek clarification and look for help, there is nowhere to get answers. There is also no service counter made available to take public queries,” she said.

Yong noted that with the federal government’s Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) scheme, a proper online system has been set up where the public can check the detailed status of their applications including the banking details as to when and whether the money had been deposited or not, and reasons are made known for rejected applications.

According to the Borneo Post, she stressed that the issues surrounding BKSS cannot be taken lightly and must be solved without further delay as the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting hard on the people’s livelihoods.

Violet Yong – Picture from DayakDaily

“To the recipients, (BKSS) is a welcome move and will at least help them in some ways but unfortunately, the state government did not fully fulfil the promises made. There are many who either have not received a sen of BKSS or only received partial payment of one or two months,” she alleged.

Yong also pointed out that there is a group who met the eligibility criteria but failed to be included in the BKSS name list.

She said that despite their submission of appeals in April or May, no outcome has been made known by the state government concerning the appeals.

Results yet to be released

“The appeal results are still not out. It is quite disappointing to note that after eight months from date of appeal, the online results remain stagnant since then and showed that the appeal status is still in verification stage. How could it be possible to take eight months to verify the appeal cases?” she questioned further.

On the BKSS to assist hawkers, Yong informed that some appeal cases were still pending approval from the state government.

“We were given to understand that all the appeals from the hawkers had been submitted to Ministry of Local Government and Housing. When we asked MBKS about the status for one of the cases, MBKS was clueless too and could not provide any specific answers to it.

“I hope that the Honourable Member for Batu Kawa who is the Minister of Local Government and Housing does not sit on this issue but solve it immediately,” she said.

Yong also noted another issue, which is the extension of discount for electricity bill for another three months from October till December.

She claimed that there have been feedback from the ground that the discounted subsidy from the state government was not reflected in Sesco’s October bill.

“It just doesn’t make sense, when the chief minister could announce to the whole world regarding the extension of the initiative to be extended until December, why is it that Sesco could not state the discounted amount in the bill? Isn’t this a continuation of the earlier incentives?

“The answer given by Sesco hotline call centre is – Sesco is still waiting for confirmation on the discounted rate from the Ministry of Utilities. How can that be possible if the chief minister has already made the announcement? How can our chief minister announce something which is not finalised yet?” she asked.