Thursday, October 25, 2012

LONG OVERDUE - A SENIORS DISCOUNT CARD

Student discount card
Early in September the government launched the 1Malaysia Student Discount Card (KADS1M). To date, close to a million full-time students from public and private universities have been issued with the card.

Last week the government announced that the card would be extended to part-time students as well as students studying overseas. 2,633 retail outlets are participating in the KADS1M, with more to come on board. With the card, students can enjoy discounts on a wide range of items, including food, books, stationery, sports equipment, clothing, medical check-ups, optometry, hotel accommodation, beauty products and IT products.

This is good news. Helping students cope with the rising cost of living is indirectly helping parents save on financial support for their children in university. The government deserves credit for this although the timing is such that critics of the ruling party are bound to link this laudable initiative to an attempt to buy votes for the coming General Election.

Students get discounts on all the above items with their KADS1M. Shouldn't senior citizens, especially those in the lower and middle income bracket, have their own discount card too? 

My question to the government is this. When will senior citizens get a discount card similar to KADS1M? At the moment the only government-backed concession card they have is the Rabbit senior citizens card. With this card, they are entitled to a 50% discount for travel on RapidKL buses, monorail, Putra LRT and the Ampang Line.

In Australia, for example, seniors cards are issued to citizens aged 60 and above "in recognition of the contribution that they have made - and continue to make - to the Australian community", as stated on the website. Now that is appreciation!

The card entitles senior Australians to discounts on purchases for travel, electrical goods, pharmaceuticals, computers, magazines, restaurants meals, and a whole host of products and services, including yoga classes.

In Malaysia, some restaurants, pharmacies and retail outlets do offer senior discounts, but more often than not, these discounts are subject to a list of terms and conditions. Oftentimes these discounts are so minuscule it does make one wonder about the sincerity of the issuing vendors. For instance, seniors get only RM1 off movie tickets at GSC cinemas for weekday shows before 6pm. The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) used to have discounted tickets for seniors, but have since withdrawn the concession 'as seniors can afford to pay regular prices'. Not all of them can.

Wouldn't it be great to have a seniors discount card for Malaysians aged 60 and above? Then I wouldn't have to carry with me a dozen plastic cards. I just have to bring along one seniors card for a day's outing in the city. Plus my credit card, of course.

Still time to sign up for Guardian's Golden Privilege card for 
senior citizens and use it for these purchases.
When you don't have a steady stream of income, every ringgit counts. For retirees, a seniors card would certainly go a long way to help offset price increases and stretch their savings.


8 comments:

BEN said...

LONG OVERDUE

Recently the Health Minister announced the establishment of retirement villages.

But curious. Why the health minister? Shouldn't it be under the purview of the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development.

With the fast development the country is undergoing, many seniors cannot survive in main stream society. Govt vision of a high income nation with its attendant rampant inflation is bad news for retirees esp the baby boomers who probably have retired some time back whose savings or pension is derived from poor salary regime of the 20th century.

Discounts may help but for all other essentials there is no escape. We are consuming essentials paying luxury prices.

There must be some form of shield or buffer. More and more retirees are being swallowed underneath the poverty level.

el-f said...

Ben, retirement villages come under Seniors Living & Aged Care, a sub-set of Healthcare which is one of the NKEAs (National Key Economic Areas) identified in the Economic Transformation Program, the goal of which is for Malaysia to achieve high-income status by 2020. Some of these retirement villages have been identified as Entry Point Projects (EPPs). Investments come from the private sector. That probably explains why the Health Minister made the announcement. Rumah Seri Kenangan (retirement homes or more correctly, welfare homes for the aged) come under the Ministry of Women, Family and Communuity.

You are right. Even in retirement homes, the government builds for the poor while the private housing developers build for the rich. The middle class is usually ignored. Welcome to the middle class trap. We are caught in the middle!

Pak Idrus said...

Lily, Buat Malu aje when establishment ask too many questions when using the card. It would create more frustration than happiness. The culture of the business world in Malaysian must first be changed before such card is issued.

el-f said...

Pak Idrus, I don't have an issue with saving face. I always ask if there's a discount for senior citizens before I sign up for a seminar, pay for a restaurant meal or a tour package. Of course for small items like clothing and books, I usually don't ask as I know most retail outlets don't offer special discounts for seniors.

Bananazą®‡ said...

Very well said, gimme 5 waited too long neck long already tQ

ZulSim said...

I have purchased LRT tickets at senior citizen price by just showing MyKad. Never heard of Rabbit card.
6 months ago, the lady conductor sold me senior citizen fare for the Sydney Rover without even asking for documentary proof. She just asked me whether I am over 60 & I replied in the affirmative. Strangely, she didn't ask me about my citizenship. I guess the privilege also applies to tourists too.
A friend of mine told me I have to obtain a senior citizen card at KL Sentrai to enjoy half fare in KTM trains.
Yes, I think it's high time the Govt issue Warga Mas cards for use by all Govt agencies & commercial outlets.

el-f said...

ZulSim, the Rabbit card is the name of the warga emas card that is issued free at the Pasar Seni LRT station. I would strongly recommend it for all senior citizens aged 60 and above. Not only does the card holder get 50% off fares on the LRT, monorail, KTM and RapidKL, it saves the hassle of having to queue up and showing your MyKad to get a discounted ticket.

Hongkong has the Octopus card for senior citizens, and London has the Oyster. I guess Malaysia opted for Rabbit because it sounds like "Rapid".

ZulSim said...

Thanks. That would mean the card issued by KTM at KL Sentral is superfluous.
The Oyster in London is like our Touch-&-Go. It is meant for everybody. Maybe, extra data are embedded for senior citizens to enjoy discounts. We use the normal ones whenever my wife & I spent time with our daughter in London.
I understand every big cities in China also have such cards & they are sold & topped-up in major train stations. They can also be used for entries to all tourist spots.
It's a matter of getting more establishments to accept Touch-&-Go plus incorporating senior privileges into the card.