KUCHING: The government would continue to increase the number of senior citizens activity centres (PAWE) nationwide, with the target of having one PAWE per parliamentary constituency.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the objective is in line with the desire to encourage senior citizens to remain active so that they would not bound by the ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’.
She notes that under the Third Rolling Plan of 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), the Welfare Department has been allocated with RM5 million to set up 47 new PAWEs.
This, she adds, would increase the number of PAWEs to 135 by the year-end.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the federal Minister of Women and Family Development noted Sarawak has the most PAWEs compared with other states.
“There are 11 PAWEs in Sarawak now and the federal government has approved additional allocations for the setting up of two new PAWEs – one each in Petra Jaya and Sibuti – which will make the total number of PAWEs in Sarawak to 13,” she spoke at the launch of the state-level ‘Santuni Rakyat’ programme here yesterday, where Sarawak’s Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah was also present.
Adding on, Dr Wan Azizah said the federal government had allocated RM93.4 million last year and RM82.9 million this year to the Welfare Department of Sarawak, through the Senior Citizens Aid (BOT) meant for this particular group.
This aid, she observed, had benefited a total of 22,000 recipients.
On a related subject, Dr Wan Azizah believed that Sarawak would be heading towards becoming an ageing state by 2030 – a time when 16 per cent of its population would be aged 60 and above.
She said data from the Department of Statistics last year showed that almost 11 per cent – or 306,800 – of the 2.79-million population in Sarawak comprised senior citizens.
Based on this figure, she foresaw that by 2030, the percentage of senior citizens in Sarawak could increase to 16 per cent – or 526,300 – of the total projected population of 3.29 million.
She said Malaysia, as a whole, would also become an ageing nation by 2030, when 15 per cent of Malaysians would, by then, be in the age of 60 and above.
“This demographic change will have major implications in social and economic aspects.
“Hence, early preparations to prepare Malaysia’s achievement as an ageing nation require full commitment and collaboration at all levels including the federal government, state government, local authorities, private sector, academicians, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), communities and the senior citizens themselves,”.