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Malaysia’s ageing population needs government attention

The government should not leave planning for an ageing population to profit-making market forces

A side lane in Butterworth town - ANIL NETTO

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An enterprising property developer is already capitalising on Malaysia’s growing ageing population.

A news portal recently reported that a developer plans to turn Butterworth into a retirees’ haven.

The report’s subtitle read: “Jayamas Property Group to create niche location, as Malaysia heads towards an ageing population by 2030.” The report said Butterworth is already being targeted as a private housing development hub for the elderly, with medical and healthcare services.

Unfortunately, only wealthy senior citizens will be able to afford such services.

The Department of Statistics has predicted that the country may soon become an ageing nation, with 15% of the adult population above 60 by 2030. 

So, many more developers may take advantage of the growing need for retirement homes and services. 

However, instead of these private developers, it is the government that should come up with a masterplan soon. 

Leaving such care services for the elderly to market forces and businesses will worsen social problems: it will widen the gulf between the wealthy and the poor. The financial burden of having to provide for the care and safety of the elderly will also fall on their adult children.

If the needs of the elderly are left entirely to private housing developers and healthcare providers, the task of monitoring them for compliance with healthcare standards will fall on the government. This could get increasingly messy, given the questionable track record of property developers in the country. 

The government should not leave planning for an ageing population to profit-making market forces. It should get involved in the development of retirement villages across the country and oversee healthcare staffing, including the training and appointment of caregivers and nursing services. It should address the care and medical needs of the elderly holistically. 

The oversight of past governments in this area has not only led to a shortage of staff, but has also raised the price of caregiving services in the country. This has made such services unaffordable for the low-income group and even for the lower-middle-class category.

With barely a decade left before we reach this predicted 15% threshold, the country will grapple with many of these serious problems if we do not prioritise the needs of our increasing aging population now. 

Hopefully, one day, Malaysia will be able to showcase to the world decent and affordable retirement villages that meet global standards. If Japan and several other nations can do it right, so can we. 

We should not allow the care of our senior citizens to become the responsibility of profit-seeking private healthcare providers and housing developers. 

If there is no action by the government now, the social consequences will be irreversible by 2030.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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Jean Pala
Jean Pala
14 Jan 2023 8.55am

We could learn a lot from Singapore’s strategies for the ageing population.
Supporting families to keep their elderly in their own homes is also vital.

Paul Lim
Paul Lim
1 Jan 2023 3.50pm

I am 74 and living in Belgium. Here we have homes for the aged both private and public but for the private it is highly regulated so that the private sector cannot excessively make profit and are in doing a service. The local councils set up homes and these are totally non-profit. Bear in mimd here that local councils here are all elected. These homes are again divided into those who have médical facilities and those that are for the aged who are in good Health. I am living in another kind which is the trend i.e. co-housing. A big house in which there are self-container apartments but they share common spaces, common kitchen where the aged can meet to eat together and have common activities but in good Health.

Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
1 Jan 2023 10.46am

Malaysia’s ageing population needs government attention and..profit-making market forces.

It may be wrong to expect the Government only to be care for aged people except for those who merit as the currnt population is expected to be educated and able to plan for its own old age. Thus the planning for old age should be primarily be with the people and not the Authorities who should provide incentives and have been providing but as the people themselves do not practise financial discipline and live beyond their means then no amount of assistance by anyone will be sufficient for their old age care.

PEOPLE SHOULD LEARN TO ADAPT/PROVIDE FOR OLD AGE AND NOT EXPECT CHILDREN TO CARE FOR THEM IN OLD AGE AS MAY NOT BE PRACTICAL.

Bless all

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