Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Zahid: My wife was just advising army veterans

Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today denied that his wife Hamidah Khamis had, in a text message, threatened army veterans who had planned to demonstrate outside the Defence Ministry (Mindef).

NONEHis wife was merely advising the protesters-to-be, Zahid said.

He was responding to the claim by Persatuan Veteran Tentera Melayu (PVTM) president Mohd Ali Bahrom (right) that its June 29 protest was called off because of the threat and also because Zahid would not be present at Mindef on that day.

"My wife and Ali are from the same village. They know each other even though they are not related.

"I asked my wife how many text messages Ali sent (to her), she told me 16, because Ali is fond of sending text messages to anyone, including my wife.

"So my wife advised him, but Ali only highlighted one sentence and after I read it, I don't think that it is a threat," Zahid said.NONEElaborating on the matter at the Parliament lobby this morning, Zahid (left) took a swipe at Ali, accusing him of taking a simple message as a threat because he had become “accustomed to issuing threats”.

“It has never come across my mind why my wife would want to threaten Ali Tinju, he is after all the president of a major army veteran association.

“If he wants to demonstrate that is his right... but serve the veterans honestly”, he said.

He added that claims by Mohd Ali that he could not meet the army veterans on the date of the aborted protest because he was away at an overseas camp was a lie.

“He should ask himself how much aid he has received from the Veterans Affairs Department (JHEV),  how much money he has demanded from other individuals and how many people were threatened for refusing to provide aid to him,” added Zahid.

‘Aid for army veterans without pension’

The postponed protest was intended to raise the issue of pension of army veterans and their general welfare.

Earlier, Zahid said people who joined the military but opted to retire before a minimum of 21 years did not qualify for pension.

“But what JHEV does is to provide long-term aid to retired army men including giving help to those who earned less than RM3,000.

“For example, their children who pursue a degree at local university is given RM1,500 and for diploma it’s RM1,000, and other children in schools are also given assistance if they qualify,” he said.

He added that other aid include medical expenses for sickness contracted during or after service and funds to repair their houses.

“In the last three years we’ve spent RM82 milllion for 79,000 retired army men who do not have pensions, on average that’s RM1,000 per veteran annually and this aid is for life,” he said.

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