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‘Malaysia may need time banking policy’

The government may need to institute a time banking policy, such as practised in Switzerland, to encourage the younger generation to care for senior citizens, said Third Age Media Association founding president Cheah Tuck Wing

PETALING JAYA: “Time banking works in Switzerland, Japan, South Korea and other developed countries because they are used to volunteer work. It can even be a great equaliser.

“For the rich or poor in terms of cash, anyone can afford personal care in their old age, if the person worked hard enough earlier in life to earn the hours,” said Cheah.

Time banking means a person or entity provides a time-based service to another entity, according to an independent Swiss online service portal for banking, insurance, and telecom

Simply put, the hours put into service becomes a currency that is recorded in a “time bank”. The amount of time-based units accumulated can be used to buy the services of another person.

Cheah said although many international schools in Malaysia have introduced voluntarism in their curriculum, the idea is still in its nascent stages. He attributes the lack of enthusiasm for the initiative to the fact that most Malaysians expect something in return for the services they provide.

To this, he cited a study by the Cyberjaya-based Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis, which shows the participation of Malaysians as volunteers is below the international average of 3% for people aged 15 and older.

“We lack a sense of community work,” he said.

He was responding to inquiries about whether time banking was feasible in Malaysia, seeing as a World Bank research report released in 2020 found that 7% of the Malaysian population are aged 65 years and above, which classified the country as an “ageing society”.

The World Bank report also said that the rate of ageing would increase in the coming years, with the portion of the population aged 65 and above projected to double to 14% by 2044 and 20% by 2056, making Malaysian society “super-aged”.

University of Malaya professor of Economics Datuk Dr Rajah Rasiah said time banking could be a positive way for people to connect with others if implemented effectively.

“The interactions offered by time banking are supposed to make people healthier, happier and less isolated. It also offers equal access and better financial security since monetary transactions are not a part of it.

“It is worth experimenting with time banking as it promises to be far better than sending the aged to old folks’ homes.”

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