Single mum turned down thrice for government aid

National 3 minutes, 0 seconds

BELAIT

A SINGLE mother who struggles with holding down a job because of a paralysed right arm is still seeking government assistance, despite being turned down by the Community Development Department (JAPEM) three times.

Pg Siti Khatizzah Pg Ismail, 29, said she has been unable to hold down a steady job since separating from her husband in 2012 due to her physical condition.

She is paid $14 a day to work eight hour shifts as a housekeeper at a Kuala Belait hotel.

Her father and sole financial supporter, Pg Ismail Pg Hj Ali said that he had applied three times to JAPEM for financial assistance, but was rejected on the grounds that his daughter failed to match the criteria under the Old Age Pensions and Disability Act of 1954.

After their request for disabled allowance was rejected, Pg Ismail applied for his daughter under a more general category – monthly welfare assistance – but was also turned down, with the reason that she is under the care of her husband.

“If I die, she will be on her own. Her husband does not support her. Will they (the government) only step in then to help?” said the 63-year-old who relies on his military pension and side jobs to support his daughter.

Head of JAPEM in Belait Noridah Hj Ishak responded that her department had supported her applications to be forwarded to the national assessment committee for welfare assistance, but said their rejections were final.

“There could be several reasons why (she was turned down). For disabilities allowance – a lot of it (deciding factors) is based on the doctor's letter. If the doctor certifies that she is fit to work, and she has an existing job, it is unlikely that she would receive the allowance,” said Noridah.

“On the monthly welfare assistance, there is no official paperwork of the divorce provided. It is difficult for these applications (to go through) if the complete documentation revealing the person's (difficult) circumstances is not supplied,” she added.

Pg Siti Khatizzah said she was particularly troubled about her ongoing divorce, with her husband taking custody of their son, leaving her only able to see him sporadically.

“We meet maybe once a month, where I have to have somebody drive me to pick my son up. The terms (of seeing my son) are all set by my husband,” she said.

She added that she has a longer-term ambition of supporting herself by working as a makeup artist, having undertaken a nine-month makeup course at the Youth Development Centre in 2012.

According to Pg Ismail, his daughter's problems began when she was “mishandled and yanked” during delivery.

He said two to three weeks after birth, Pg Siti Khatizzah's arm showed little movement. She was brought to a specialist, who said she was “normal”.

Six months later she was brought to a doctor, who again insisted that nothing was wrong.

After turning four, Pg Ismail yet again approached doctors, who finally verified that her arm was paralysed.

Pg Ismail claimed that a bitter dispute ensued with the Ministry of Health (MoH) shortly after, as he sought for answers and solutions to his daughter's plight.

MoH then agreed to sponsor treatment to Singapore where she would travel 13 times while she was four to six years old.

Pg Ismail however said the treatment yielded no difference and claimed that he has been denied access to his daughter's medical records since then.

“Even if I want to supply JAPEM with the full history of my daughter's medical problem, which could make them (JAPEM) change their minds about handing out assistance, I can’t,” he said.

The Brunei Times