I was recently admitted to Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang Hospital (HTAR) for treatment for pneumonia. I had requested for a first class ward, as my pension card stated that I am entitled to such a room.
However, I was informed that this category of ward no longer exists, due to patient overload from the recent Covid-19 pandemic. I was given to understand that there are renovations taking place, but I was not provided with further details.
I accepted the explanation and was placed in a normal ward with ventilation provided by fans. The medical staff were friendly, approachable, and catered to my needs.
The treatment provided by the medical staff was good, and I have no complaints about this aspect. I was offered follow-up treatment on an outpatient basis, and I am deeply grateful for this.
Otherwise, I would have to go to a private hospital, where the charges would be very expensive. I also do not have medical insurance, the reasons for which I will explain later.
I am extremely disappointed with the government, as providing a first class ward for senior government officers (Grade 41 and above) was one of the privileges that retired staff are entitled to. I hope that this issue will be looked into for the following reasons:
- Government pensioners cannot afford the yearly contribution to insurance companies. In my case, one month’s pension is not enough to settle the insurance premiums, which can reach RM 5,000 or more.
- My wife resigned from the private sector more than 20 years ago and is not entitled to a pension. Hence, the combined insurance contribution would reach more than RM10,000, or two months’ pension.
- The insurance premium increases drastically after the age of 70. The pensioner cannot cope with such a demand.
- Government staff pay is usually lower than the private sector, and we cannot afford the premiums charged by the insurance companies. They have to fork thousands of ringgit for each family member. The total amount can be quite substantial, which will then affect the family’s savings.
- There was no hot water in the shower rooms for unknown reasons. A patient with flu or any disease affecting the lungs may not be able to tolerate the cold water, especially in the morning.
- Some members of the public abuse the almost free treatment provided by the government. I was shocked to see a shower room with human waste rotting away. This is a classic example of public ingratitude. I have never seen this in my more-than-36-years of government service.
I hope that the abolition of the first class ward will be reversed. My pension card, granted by the Malaysian government, is proof of entitlement.
Ir Jeewa Vengadasalam is a retired Malaysian government engineer Grade J52 and a former lecturer at UTAR.
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