PKR secretary-general and Pandan Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli continues to spar with the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) over the late gratuity payments of retired army veterans, who have been putting forward their complaints on the Urusan Gaji Angkatan Tentera (UGAT) Facebook page. According to Rafizi, the retired armed forces personnel are pushed back and forth, between UGAT and LTAT’s departments. On its part, LTAT had issued a statement back in March assuring that all completed applications of its retired members received by LTAT from Defence Ministry’s UGAT have been processed and all payments have been made to the applicants. In fact, LTAT is taking legal action against Rafizi for claiming that it is late in paying gratuity to the retired armed forces personnel.

Yet it seems Rafizi is still adamant that both LTAT and UGAT have failed to fulfill their end. He has called on UGAT director to publicly explain the difficulty in making the gratuity payments on time. The PKR vice president also recently announced plans to go on a nationwide tour of the country’s army camps in the event Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein failed to explain why it is army veterans are still waiting for their gratuity payments. Markedly, Rafizi had stated that the tour of army camps would be to ‘incite’ displeasure among armed forces personnel and retired personnel over the defense minister and the United Malays National Organization’s (UMNO) failure to care for their welfare.

The matter has turned into a he said she said game but it is of public interest as the men and women affected by this commotion have dedicated their life to ensuring the safety and security of this country. No doubt LTAT has refuted the allegation made by Rafizi yet the issue persists. Interestingly in July, LTAT announced it had recorded RM766.8 million in profits last year and declared dividends and bonuses of 12 percent for its investors in 2015. Thus, LTAT would have the necessary funds to make gratuity payments to its 122,000 investors. This notwithstanding, it is still imperative for UGAT and LTAT to investigate the claims made by the retired army veterans to see if there are any basis in their allegations. Perhaps problems may have arisen in the disbursement of the payments.

Meanwhile it is glaringly apparent that Rafizi is not altruistic in his concern of the retired arm veterans’ welfare but rather is exploiting the issue for political mileage. His statement to incite dissatisfaction attests to this. But then again Rafizi is well known for his theatrics. While he could act as mediator and peacefully raise the concern of the retired army veterans, instead he seems willing to resort to another approach simply to galvanize support. With rumors rift that the next general election could possibly be held in the first quarter of 2017, this is a golden opportunity for him to leverage on public dissatisfaction to advance his political interests.