We can't cope with high costs, say Malaysian disabled couple

We can't cope with high costs, say Malaysian disabled couple
Struggling to survive: Jayaletchumy (left) adjusting an OKU motorcycle so that Mageswaran can sit on it.
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

PETALING JAYA - "If a normal person has 10 problems, a disabled person has 100."

This was the grouse made by couple V. Mageswaran and R. Jayaletchumy who are struggling to cope with the higher cost of living due to limited exemption for items under the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Magesvaran, 39, who is wheelchair bound, said the RM350 (S$125.90) monthly disability allowance was not enough to cover their expenses.

"The Government only raised the allowance by RM50 and this is not enough to cover the increase in expenses due to the GST," he said.

After becoming paralysed after a fall, Magesvaran was injured in an accident four years ago and required regular treatment for his open wounds.

"I need treatment at the hospital at least twice a week and travelling back and forth uses up quite a lot of my allowance," he said.

To help make ends meet, Magesvaran said he worked a few days a month selling prayer items. He cannot remain in the same position for long periods.

"The pay is low and it does not really help in increasing our household income," he said.

His wife Jayaletchumy, 39, who uses a walking aid due to a fractured spine from a fall a few years ago, said many items needed by the disabled were not GST-exempt.

She said items such as bandages, gauze, cotton and medicine used to treat Mages­varan's open wounds did not fall under the exemptions.

The couple currently live in a rented home in Sentul which costs RM100 a month.

Wheelchair-bound Francis Siva, 57, said the monthly allowance of between RM200 and RM350 provided by the welfare department was not enough to cover a disabled person's daily needs.

"It is not enough as I have to spend an extra RM200 each month to get the items I need," he said.

Francis, who is also president of the non-profit organisation Independent Living & Training Centre, said most of his members required additional items and medicine which were not covered under the list of GST exemptions.

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