Tuesday, January 14, 2014


The Chinese character is made up of the
characters for 'old' and 'children'.
After writing about amazing super seniors in the previous blog post, it is depressing to have to highlight the plight of seniors who are frail and decrepit, and left to live in squalor and neglect.

This picture (see below) on the front page of yesterday's The Star paper is a strong reminder of our filial responsibility. Fortunately, the sad story ended on a happy note when the five abandoned senior citizens were taken to the hospital and given food, medical treatment and counselling. An old folks home has offered to take them in.

This is not an isolated case. I have visited old folks home where many of the residents have been left there to await their final days. One such home is the Tong Sim Old Folks Home in Old Airport Road. It is a pathetic scene that greets visitors. The more able seniors care for those less able as there is no paid staff to look after them, only volunteers.

Front page of The Star, 13 Jan 2013. Click here to read the article.
A day later - good news for the abandoned senior citizens. Click here to read more.

The 2010 population census shows that Malaysia has 2.3 million senior citizens aged 60 and above. Of this number, about 675,000 or nearly 30% have been abandoned by their children and are now living in welfare homes or left in hospitals. With this demographics (those aged 60 and above) projected to reach 4.9 million or 15% of the population in 2030, we certainly won't be hearing the last of such tragic stories.

From The Star, 14 Jan 2014. Click here to read the original article.

For several years now, there has been debate over whether to introduce a Maintenance of Parents Act similar to the Act that has already been enforced with some success in several countries including Singapore. Each time the proposal comes up, it is shot down by advocacy groups as 'not the way forward'.

What is the way forward then? As it is, it is shameful for adult children to have to be reminded of their filial duty. Their parents looked after them when they were children, now it is their turn to look after their parents. That is the circle of life, and has always been since time immemorial.

Abandoning parents in their old age because they have not been 'good' parents sounds like a vengeful tit-for-tat, and speaks volumes about the kind of individuals these adult children are. If they cannot forgive their parents for whatever wrongdoings their parents may have committed, they will ultimately be consumed by this bitterness that will fester in them like a cancer.

Capital fm 88.9's Joanna Kam interviews Lily Fu of Seniorsaloud and Chai Sen Tyng of the Institute of Gerontology, UPM for their views on the Maintenance of Parents Act. (July 2013). Click here for what Lily shared. 

With the number of abandoned parents continuing to rise, it is clear that we urgently need a Maintenance of Parents Act to protect those who are left alone to fend for themselves in their old age.
At the same time, young parents can learn from these sad cases the importance of bonding with their children, and inculcating in them the right values. They themselves should also set the right example for their children to emulate. Otherwise, they might just end up being abandoned by their children one fine day.

On a personal note, my 87-year old mother is in a special home for the elderly who have dementia. You can read more about the home here. When I first registered her, I had to sign a contract. One of the many clauses was the pledge to visit her regularly. I was also required to provide the contact details of another family member. I am not sure if this is standard procedure and implemented in all homes for the elderly. If it is not, then it should be to safe-guard parents against neglect or abandonment by their children.

Something for us to act on and share in these images below.

An edited copy of this blog article was published in The Star on 16 January, 2014

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