SENIOR CITIZENS’ VOTES MATTER
The anxiety of waiting for the results of GE15 is over, as is the jubilance. It’s now time to get down to brass tacks for our new unity government. We understand PM Anwar has plenty on his plate at the moment, so no demands just a wish list for him and the relevant ministries to work on as soon as he has seen to the top priorities.
As gerontologist Lily Fu puts it, seniors like her would vote for candidates who will support and push for reforms that benefit seniors and the community they live in.
|At present we do not have an inter-ministerial committee on ageing, but we do have a Malaysian Coalition On Ageing (MCOA) launched in Feb 2022.|
Fu also urges for an agency for an ageing population to be set up to push for the needs and rights of older people.
|Me interviewing two senior citizens who are looking for jobs. They spoke about the difficulty in getting employed because of their age. They are in their 60s but still fit and able to work.|
|Above all, we want to be accorded respect and dignity, not ignored or seen as unproductive and a burden to society|
We certainly don’t want empty pre-election promises of what the government can do or will do for us. We don’t want vague general references to what it plans to do for seniors. We want details, specifics and deadlines. And if the government doesn’t deliver, we have the right to protest, to hold it accountable if it reneges on its word, and not vote for any under-performing ministers should he or she stand for re-election.
Here’s a short checklist to begin with for the relevant ministries to take note of. In no particular order.
- more elder-friendly facilities in public places e.g. government buildings, parks and hospitals. More benches to rest weary feet, decent public toilets, priority queues for the elderly, etc.
- a public transport system (and transport hubs) that takes into account the physical limitations of the elderly and OKUs. There has been vast improvement in the MRT-LRT lines, but bus transport and the peripherals suck, and need urgent upgrading.
- a senior privilege card with genuine discounts that covers items seniors regularly spend on. By ‘genuine’ we mean ‘without a long list of terms and conditions’. The government should give seniors a discount card similar to the one for university students.
- well-maintained and fully-equipped senior community centers in every housing area or constituency, not rundown under-utilized community halls that are usually locked up.
- more opportunities for re-training and re-employment of seniors so they can return to the work force to supplement their savings
- more affordable nursing care for those who require long term care, and well-managed welfare homes for the elderly
- more lifelong learning programs similar to that offered at University of the Third Age at UPM Serdang to be extended to other states
- no age discrimination but respect for all seniors, please
|Morning exercises at a well-run assisted living facility set up by an NGO.|
To give credit where credit is due, we appreciate the government’s efforts in making public healthcare accessible and affordable to seniors. We welcome the discounts for seniors travelling on trains and buses. We also acknowledge the financial assistance given to Selangor residents for funeral expenses under the Mesra Usia Emas Scheme and other schemes.