Malaysia ageing fast, government to prepare society changes, needs

KUALA LUMPUR: The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry will focus on strengthening its social support system to encourage older persons to be more productive in life and towards society, says minister, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim.

She said the government needed to be well prepared for the ageing needs and changes in all aspects, including society, economy, policies as well as the institutional structure.

"Malaysia is not only ageing, but ageing fast. The number of older persons aged 60 years and above will double from 3.1 million recently to 5.8 million of the population in 2030," she said in her speech at the opening of the Seminar on Successful Ageing 2017 at Institut Sosial Malaysia (ISM) here today.

Her speech was read out by her deputy, Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun.

Rohani said the increasing number of senior citizens would give substantial socio-economic impacts such as the increased cost of healthcare and social security, decreased labour work force and changes in family structure.

"According to the United Nations report in 2007, the number of senior citizens in Malaysia had doubled from seven per cent to 14 per cent in just 28 years as compared to Sweden that took 112 years for the changes to occur.

"'These challenges require targeted social policies and programmes. Therefore, we need to achieve the sustainable development goals to 'leave no one behind', and need to respond to ageing while embracing inclusivity," she added.

Rohani said the government would emphasise on building an inclusive society, including older persons and make them able to age with dignity and respect as well as independent and fulfilling lives as integral members of their families, communities and country.

"We are to ensure they (senior citizens) also optimise their self potential through a healthy, positive, active and productive life. Under the National Policy for Older Persons, we are focusing on expanding community-based programme, ensuring adequate provision of shelters, promoting life-long learning as well as opportunities for employment," she said.

The two-day seminar began yesterday, with the theme, 'Enhancing Inclusivity: Facilitating Participation of Older Persons in the Community', and is organised by the Department of Social Welfare in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency. — Bernama