A cancer-stricken woman, who is also bedridden, was forced to make her way to the Malaysia’s Employees Provident Funds’ (EPF) office in Johor Bahru so she will be able to withdraw the balance of her EPF savings in Account 1.
The 56-year-old Malaysian patient had to be brought to the EPF office via an ambulance for thumbprint verification on 17 December.
The woman’s younger sister, Nur Sheila Abdullah, took to Facebook to share the ordeal on 21 December (Sunday).
In her post, Sheila explained that she and her brother visited the EPF branch’s Customer Service Department to find if its officers could go to their house to obtain their sister’s thumbprint.
“We told the officer on duty about our sister’s predicament and that she wished to withdraw the balance of her EPF savings in Account 1, which (was) not more than RM10, 000,” Sheila wrote.
She added, “We asked whether an EPF employee could make a house visit due to my sister’s situation. (But) the answer given to us was ‘no’.”
Sheila explained that the officer that they spoke to told them that the EPF contributor must be present in person at the office to use the machine for thumbprint verification.
“(The officer added that) it does not matter whether you are coming in an ambulance or on a stretcher so long as you come to the branch,” Sheila explained.
No proper facilities for ambulance
If that’s not bad enough, Sheila also revealed that there were no facilities like parking spot for ambulance or waiting area for disabled and ill people like her sister to wait at the EPF branch.
“The experience was made worse when the ambulance that we rented to take our sister was forced to move to the back of the (EPF branch’s) building. The reason was that the ambulance was blocking the building’s entrance. This forced the driver to go around the building a few times,” Sheila said.
Following that, Sheila told that an officer came to them and instructed that the stretcher, which was used to carry her sister, be brought to a counter.
“Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), it was sad to see my sister, who can’t even raise her hand, being stared at by people. The saddest part was when an officer told us that we could have had my sister’s thumbprint verification done manually although it would take time,” she wrote.
She asked, “Why didn’t they (EPF) inform us earlier when we asked about it? It is not a big deal even if it would take time as long as our sister didn’t have to go there.”
As such, Sheila wondered if the branch management was aware of the safety of its workers. This is because if a person with contagious disease were to be brought into the office, it could be a public health risk for those in the building, Sheila said.
“Just imagine if a person had a contagious disease, it would be dangerous to people.”
Given her unpleasant experience at the EPF branch, Sheila said that she had submitted a written feedback on the incident and requested EPF to review its standard operating procedures.
EPF’s response over the viral post
At the time of writing, the post received 7,500 comments and 14,000 shares on Facebook.
Many netizens slammed EPF for their procedures following the viral post.
“Your process needs to be aligned at every branches. Have a separate SOP for disable, old and critically sick. You are keeping people’s hard-earned monies,” an online user called AnGie Chin-Tan commented.
Another user Md Afrizan Bin Ariffin wrote, “EPF should have helped and attended to the customer in person, especially critically-ill cases like this.”
Following the incident, EPF released a statement apologising for the inconvenience caused to Sheila’s sister and her family members.
“We sincerely regret the incident and wish to apologise for causing unnecessary distress to the member and her family member. Our team in Johor Bahru has since contacted and met with the member and her family to further understand the situation,” it said.
It continued, “We are keen to not only address the member’s concerns, but also want to take this opportunity to improve existing processes in order to provide a better and more caring member service experience to all EPF members.”