PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli will tour army camps across the nation if Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein cannot explain why army veterans are still waiting for their gratuity payments.
He said this after retired army veterans continue to complain of late payments at the Urusan Gaji Angkatan Tentera (Ugat) Facebook page.
“I am making an open request to the Ugat director so I can know why Ugat is facing this difficulty of paying on time…
“I also urged Hishammuddin to make an immediate statement and promise to resolve the matter with due process as soon as possible, so retired army personnel will get their gratuities within the week.
“If this doesn’t happen, I will go on a tour of army camps all over the country to ‘incite’ armed forces personnel and retired personnel about Hishammuddin and Umno’s failure to care for their welfare,” Rafizi said in a statement.
He urged the Ugat director to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, as the contact details for Ugat are not publicly available.
According to comments left on Ugat’s Facebook page, former armed forces personnel are told to check with Ugat to claim their gratuity, but Ugat is uncontactable.
If they do answer, “they make false promises”, according to one former armed forces personnel who has been waiting for the gratuity since 2015.
“When I call again, they ignore me, and when I go to the Ministry of Defence, I am told it will be banked in in May. It wasn’t.
“Why is my money barred? I served the force for a long time and I never breached regulations. Please cooperate.
“I have wife and children to support and I still can’t secure a stable job. I am now living at my in-laws and tapping rubber but how much can that get me? Please be alert about this,” he wrote.
The posting was made three months ago.
Another posting made three weeks ago was similarly desperate.
“I’m having problems with my motorcycle and car repayments now. Where is my money, Ugat? I can go crazy like this. There’s no use for me to abuse you here. I regret quitting, regret that I am still waiting for what is rightfully mine,” he said.
According to Rafizi, the retired armed forces personnel are pushed from department to department, between Ugat and the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT).
“It is too expensive and troublesome for them to go to Kuala Lumpur to meet with Ugat officers. This is their money, gratuity on their pension which they contributed to when they were working.
“Retired armed forces personnel are treated like a ball kicked between LTAT and Ugat,” said Rafizi, who is also PKR vice-president and Pandan MP.
LTAT is taking legal action against Rafizi for claiming that LTAT is late in paying gratuity to the retired armed forces personnel.
“On payment of gratuity by LTAT to retired members of the armed forces, all completed applications received by LTAT from Defence Ministry’s Ugat have been processed and all payments have been made to the applicants,” the armed forces fund said in March.