Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Click on the image for a close-up view (Photo: The Star)

When our new PM announced the line-up of his cabinet recently, I eagerly scanned the papers to see if the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development or the Ministry of Youth and Sports had been expanded to include the elderly. I should have known better. Time and again, our senior citizens have been sidelined and overlooked. But when it comes to election time, we are courted and all-out efforts made to get us to the polling stations.

Minister for Ageing, the Hon. Justine Elliot, MP, officially opened one of Arcare’s new residential aged care facilities, Arcare on Hampstead, in Melbourne’s inner western suburb of Maidstone.

West Asian countries like Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have set up national committees for ageing. In most cases, they are headed by the Minister of Social Affairs, or come under the Ministry of Health. In Singapore there is a Minister-in-charge of Ageing Issues. Australia has a Minister for Ageing and China has an active National Committee on Ageing. The USA and the EU countries are way ahead in implementing national policies on ageing. More and more countries are following suit.

(Photo: The Straits Times)

What about Malaysia? Well, all we have is NACSCOM - the National Council of Senior Citizens Organizations Malaysia. It is not even a government body. 92-year old NACSCOM president Datuk Lum Kin Tuck is a member of the Government’s advisory body on the implementation of the National Policy for the Elderly 1995 and the creation of the National Senior Citizens’ Action Plan. While NACSCOM's efforts are commendable given their limited resources, the same cannot be said of the government. According to Datuk Lum, “the implementation part of the policy’s objectives has been very weak”. 14 years down the road, and not much to show for it.

NACSCOM President Datuk Lumat at the launch of NACSCOM's second day care centre at the Semarak flats in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur (Photo: The Star)


So what can we do about this, short of putting on colour-coded T-shirts and taking to the streets? Any suggestions or comments?

1 comment:

Starmandala said...

I can already see you leading 50,000 senior citizens - some with walkers, some with canes, some in wheelchairs, others in tracksuits - marching to Parliament to demand action on behalf of the aged! The FRU won't dare teargas or watercannon a bunch of oldies... would they?