Claims of scalpers preying on Covid-19 next-of-kin to expedite burial with exorbitant fees

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Port Klang assemblyman Azmizam Zaman Huri today warned Malaysians to beware of agents offering to expedite funerary services for exorbitant fees.

The PKR state lawmaker said he has received numerous complaints from people whose relatives died of Covid-19 related illnesses about “scalpers” charging them upwards of RM2,000 on non-existent funeral expenses, Utusan Malaysia reported.

“These ‘worms’ come wearing kopiah and tudung and can be seen hovering around the forensic department and they look very convincing, as though they are part of the crew.

“They act nice as though they are there to help you so they can dupe the next-of-kin who don’t want to wait for a long time to bury the body,” Azmizam was quoted as saying.

“Once they identify you, they will approach and offer their services to expedite the process of getting the body, cleaning it and burial. Some will pretend to be nice and say no need to pay, pay what you feel is right and so on.

“Then when the process is done, you’re given receipts and bills for payments you need not make. This is how this syndicate is operating,” he added.

He said Muslim families need not pay a cent as all funeral and burial expenses are borne by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department.

According to Azmizam, many non-governmental organisations have been blamed for the emergence of these scalpers. As a result, their pro-bono work has been hampered.

However, he said he still supports the efforts by NGOs to bury the Covid-19 dead, adding that these volunteers have been trained to properly handle the bodies by the hospital authorities.

He acknowledged that the rising number of Covid-19 deaths, coupled with different religious beliefs in multicultural Malaysia, have posed a great challenge to hospitals.

Covid-19 cases and deaths have been rising nationwide in recent weeks, straining the capacity of hospital mortuaries, funeral parlours, as well as cemeteries.

Another PKR lawmaker, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil claimed yesterday that a Muslim cemetery in Pantai Dalam, his constituency, was running out of burial plots due to the pandemic.

The Health Ministry recorded 360 deaths from Covid-19 yesterday, the highest within a single day so far. – MMO