Medicine supply cut: Helpless pensioners, uncaring Pensioners Association


Why have the association and the unions turned dumb over Oratis’ discontinuation of medicine supply? Alas, they now have leaders perceived to be brazenly speaking up for the government, laments Satish Chand Bhandari.

Pensioners are in shock over the discontinuation of their supply of medicine through Oratis Services Sdn Bhd. They have been left in a lurch without any explanation or an alternative arrangement.

Without access to their medicine, they would be at serious risk. How are they going to manage their health problems?

There is some suggestion that the pensioners buy their medicine first and later submit their claims for reimbursement. It is easier said than done. How do you keep on dishing out money month after month and then wait for many months in order to be reimbursed?

Claiming from the government is not so easy. They drag their feet, and each month of delay is a source of misery for the pensioners. Single-income families simply cannot afford to buy their medicine, and even if they do by scratching the bottom of the barrel, how do they survive after that?

The cost of food has skyrocketed with the GST; transport is costly; rental has shot up; the cost of living has become a nightmare. And I understand that there will be 6 per cent GST on medicine from 1 April.

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As for those surviving from hand to mouth, how are they going to dish out money for their medication? There will be a breakdown in their healthcare. And this would be a tragedy.

In this difficult situation, one would assume – and expect – the Pensioners Association would be in the forefront, speaking up for the poor pensioners. But since this troubling news broke out, there has been total silence from the Pensioners Association. This is not acceptable!

And what have the civil service unions to say regarding this? All these pensioners were once their members who had paid their dues, held positions in their respective unions and contributed to the welfare of union members. Now that we are retired, aren’t we entitled to be looked after by these unions?

Why has Cuepacs suddenly turned dumb? Does it not have a responsibility in this pressing issue? Why are the affiliated unions keeping quiet?

Why is the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) not voicing out its concern as thousands of its retired members are terribly affected by this development?

The unions of yesteryear would have been vocal and concerned. They would have demanded that this be solved immediately.

Alas, that era is gone! We are now saddled with leaders who are perceived to be brazenly speaking up for the government.

Satish Chand Bhandari is an Aliran member based in Penang.

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