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Coalition set up to strengthen advocacy for Malaysia’s ageing society

KUALA LUMPUR – Nine non-profit societies focused on elderly care and representation gathered yesterday for the MoU signing of the newly established Malaysian Coalition on Ageing (MCOA) to support the needs of the country’s ageing community which have long been overlooked.

Also present were the Association for Residential Aged Care Operators of Malaysia, Nursing Care Association Selangor, Goldenage Welfare Association Malaysia and Seniors Aloud.

MCOA spokesperson Cheah Tuck Wing said the way forward is to ensure Malaysian elderlies are not being alienated from considerations to better the quality of living of the country’s civil society.

“As a coalition, we want to engage the government as partners and address the key areas of concerns well. Not as critics,” he noted at the signing held at Alty Orthopaedic Hospital, formerly known as HSC Medical Centre.

“In regards to ensuring that efforts are done extensively, a dedicated ministry is much needed for better delivery of services for senior citizens for better support.

“Existing welfare (related to elderlies) are saturated under The Welfare Department of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, when in reality the needs of the ageing population can be concentrated better when it is looked at with an inter-ministerial approach,” added Cheah.

He added that the many responsibilities and other affairs the present ministry must look into may cause a lack of attention.

Alarming concerns call for necessary action

“The current backdrop in Malaysia as far as senior citizens are concerned based on the Population & Housing Census Malaysia (2020) report, 15% of seniors above 60 years old will happen in 2030.

“Today, we have 10.4% reported in 2020 alone (about 3.4 million in absolute figure), while the present fertility rate is only at 1.7%.

“The household numbers are shrinking and families are smaller where the high cost of living is seen to be the key reasoning,” he said.

Cheah highlighted that the idea of enjoying the golden years without the weight of "extra work" is trickier than what most can expect because managing children is mostly left in the hands of the elderly, since hiring domestic helpers is seen as expensive.

“It indirectly adds the burden among those facing retirement where care is not just concerning themselves, but also their grandchildren.

Adding to the concern is that a recent EPF report notes that almost 50% of total members (around 6 million) averages about RM10,000 amount of individual funds. 

“Out of this figure, 3.6 million members are only with RM1,000 in their accounts.

“This is shocking to put it simply because there is no way anyone can retire well with such an amount. 

“To survive comfortably at least 20 years after retirement, EPF notes that we need at least a basic saving of more than RM200,000 in our accounts. Even then, we still question the viability of it with the rising prices of commodities,” he added.

According to Cheah, who is also the founding president of Third Age Media Association Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, many urgent requirements of the senior community are not addressed efficiently enough.

There are a lot of other pressing implications to push for greater attention towards the ageing population, “but the main idea is to get the public, especially the government, to understand how important it is to take serious action now more than ever.”

“It will affect the younger generations as well because they will also retire one day,” he added.

MCOA hopes for better inclusion of senior citizens into society ranging from providing sufficient infrastructure design in public places to the upkeep of care facilities for the elderly and employment opportunities.

“This will also include training of individuals who can support the need for elderly care as at the moment we are facing a shortage of certified services,” noted Cheah. – The Vibes, February 20, 2022

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