Media Statement on JKMPay

Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) would like to thank the Malaysian government for providing the Incentive Allowance for Disabled Workers or “Elaun Pekerja Orang Kurang Upaya” (EPOKU) to encourage PwDs to continue working and lead independent lives as productive members of society. The EPOKU which has been given in cash or credited into the recipient’s account has since long helped lessen the burden of the PwDs to sustain the increasing daily expenses.

However, the JKMPay Program (“Department of Social Welfare Cashless Assistance Payment Project”) launched on 9 April 2021, where the allowance is given in cash (50%) as well as credited in JKMPay Cashless Card (50%) is extremely disappointing and is creating difficulties for the community OKU specifically:

  1. Additional transportation costs are incurred for PwDs to purchase goods only at specific shops registered with Bank Islam. 
  2. Hardships are faced by PwDs, especially those who experience various difficulties in terms of mobility, access to facilities, and social support systems. 
  3. For PwDs in rural areas, where there are barely any or enough JKM panel shops or shops registered with Bank Islam for them to use their credited assistance via JKMPay. 
  4. Similar issues are faced by those living in the city where most recipients live in flats or in the housing program for the poor / ‘Projek Perumahan Rakyat Termiskin’ (PPRT). If previously they were able to purchase necessities and medicines from any shop near their flats or within their own PPRT buildings, the change would now introduce added unnecessary difficulties to go to the registered shops which may be located far from home resulting in additional transportation costs.  
  5. PwDs with mobility impairments, the wheelchair users and those without own vehicles face additional burdens and challenges. Their mobility has long been limited by the inaccessible public transportation system and built environment and there is no certainty that the registered shops under JKMPay have the necessary accessible facilities for PwDs.

So, how exactly does JKMPay ease the lives of PwDs?

The government has announced the “Keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysian Family) concept where “no one is left behind”. However, in reality this is far from the government’s aspiration. The implementation of JKMPay neglects the views of PwDs. The unilateral decision-making without taking into account the views of the PwD community and the lived realities of PwDs who are the major stakeholders directly impacted by this project, amounts to ‘dictatorship’ which is against Article 4 Clause 3 in the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This approach is obviously discriminatory and oppressive to the PwDs who are already marginalised and now they are being discriminated by the very system that is supposed to support them as a target group. It is even more demeaning that we are treated this way while Malaysia sits as a member in the Human Rights Council in the UN.

Our statement is in line with the memorandum that was prepared earlier by the “Independent Living & Training Centre Malaysia” and was handed over by about 50 PwDs from 13 PwD Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) to the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Siti Zailah on 25 January with a petition “Berikan kebebasan kepada Orang Kurang Upaya. Hentikan Project JKMPAY!” or “Provide Freedom to PwDs. Stop JKMPay Project!” which was initiated by the Persatuan Pemulihan Orang-Orang Cacat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan and has obtained more than five thousand signatures.        

We are extremely disappointed with the implementation of JKMPay and we urge KPWKM to reinstate the payment of EPOKU and other assistance in 100% cash as previously practiced. It is KPWKM’s duty to include representatives from the PwD community in every discussion, policy changes and implementation mechanisms related to the PwD community. Please consult and discuss with us in advance about our needs as suggested by YB Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi. 

“Nothing About Us, Without Us”.

We also demand that the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development set up a special committee immediately comprising PwD leaders to review and eliminate discrimination in the implementation of this Pilot Project. Any decision-making must take into account the views of PwDs as important stakeholders. Finally, we strongly protest and reject the implementation of JKMPay which is clearly a persecution of PwDs and demand that it be stopped immediately. 

Endorsed by 54 organisations/groups and 118 individuals. Refer to this link for the statement and list of endorsees in PDF format.