KUCHING: Malaysia is set to be an ageing nation by 2030 when 15 per cent of its total population now become senior citizens by then – given the age group 60 years old and above is classified under that category.
In 2014, the Malaysian population was 30.1 million, of which 2.65 million or 8.8 per cent were senior citizens, said Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim.
She said her ministry is a key agency responsible for providing proactive welfare services to senior citizens to ensure their wellbeing is taken care of.
She was speaking at the opening of the Lundu Senior Citizens Activities Centre (Pawe) in Lundu near here yesterday.
Sarawak recorded the highest number of senior citizens at 247,600, or 9.5 per cent of the total number in the country, according to the 2014 census provided by the Statistics Department, she pointed out.
In view of that, she said Malaysia must be prepared to face the reality that it is an ageing nation and also acknowledge that the senior citizens have their own needs and challenges.
Following the ministry’s initiative to review the policies regarding senior citizens, the government had come up with the National Senior Citizens Policy (DWEN) and National Senior Citizens Action Plan on Jan 5, 2011, she added.
The DWEN will focus on the government efforts in producing independent, dignified and respected as well as active, proactive and productive senior citizens via various programmes so that they too could contribute to nation building, she said.
Since December last year, 34,764 senior citizens have registered at 59 Pawe throughout the country. Sarawak has the most number of Pawes, at nine, and these have benefited many of the senior citizens.
The government is planning to set up a total of 222 Pawes – every parliamentary constituency should have at least one, Rohani added.
For Sarawak, another Pawe will be set up in Pusa and Song respectively, bringing the total number of Pawe in the state to 11 and 89 in the whole country.
“I hope with the setting up of Pawe in Lundu, the senior citizens will use it fully in accordance with the programmes and activities lined up for them to improve their quality of life.
“It is also our hope that they remain active and productive. The Pawe will also be their meeting point to catch up with one another. It is not good for senior citizens to be and feel lonely,” she said, before pledging a grant of RM33,330 to Pawe Lundu to finance its operation.
Up to 2017, Sarawak has provided assistance amounting to RM80,996,400 to 22,509 senior citizens, she said.
As for Lundu, the Kuching Welfare Office had distributed assistance of up to RM1,169,000 to 323 senior citizens in the district, she added.
Tanjung Datu assemblywoman Puan Sri Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu was among the dignitaries attending the opening of the Lundu Pawe.