KUCHING, Jan 16: Pakatan Harapan (PH) Women chief for Sarawak Affairs Voon Shiak Ni is supportive of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s attempt to legislate an act to safeguard the rights and welfare of the elderly.
Voon, who is also political secretary to Miri MP Dr Michael Teo, said she is concerned with the nation’s need to face the challenges of an ageing population by the year 2020.
“Malaysia’s population is estimated to reach about 34.3 million by 2020, and it is estimated that about 2.4 million will be seniors above 65.
“The big challenge for our nation is how to provide a system so that the elderly are adequately cared or provided for by family and community and government of the day,” said Voon in a statement today.
She said it was disheartening to read stories of elderly people being neglected or ignored, and such stories have long triggered the alarm to call for protection for the welfare of seniors in their golden years by advocates of rights groups and civil societies.
“I take pride and support the good action of our DPM Datuk Seri Wan Azizah to push for an Act to protect the welfare and interest of the elderly.
“I view this move by DPM Wan Azizah as one of the pertinent moves to address the challenges in coping with an ageing society,” she said.
She said the Act, when passed as law in Parliament, would protect and safeguard the rights and interest of the elderly, and children are required under the law to take care of their elders or face prosecution for neglect and abuse.
“And hopefully, (it will) end discrimination against the elderly and afford them an avenue to seek help and protection.
“Of course, the issue of execution and enforcement will be a challenge, too, by law enforcers, and I am of the view that ensuring an organised system to facilitate affected elders or public to report and seek help is important,” she opined.
Voon added that a recent study by rights group PEACE (UM’s Prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative) showed that 10 per cent of Malaysians over the age of 60 in urban areas experienced some forms of abuse, and she believed this was only the tip of the iceberg.
“What is the real numbers on the ground? It can be a few times higher. It is always an issue not talked about and most parents choose not to report on their children as the saying goes — blood is thicker than water.
“But I do propose that it is good and healthy for government agencies to start and initiate open discussions and talks on the issue with all stakeholders and to project it as a national issue and the duty of every Malaysians to embrace the issue.
“I also urge the Sarawak government to respond on the issue and to support efforts to safeguard the well being and rights of the elderly in their golden years in our country,” said Voon. — DayakDaily