Exercise inclusivity for elderly in public hearings


The message was loud and clear at a recent public hearing held to record the views of all those objecting to the proposed development and degazettement of land near a flood retention pond in Kampung Bohol, Kuala Lumpur.

For the busloads of residents who turned up, the message was an emphatic “No”.

But there were other issues, too, which were expressed following the session mostly attended by senior citizens.

These issues concerned the cumbersome rules and regulations which were set as a precondition to attend the public hearing.

Senior citizens were required to scan QR codes and apply other digital processes to register as participants.

Given their age and physical condition, most of them found it difficult to comply and were stressed out in the process.

When individuals are stressed out, their ability to communicate effectively may be compromised, and hinders their participation and affects the accuracy of information provided.

This then negates the principle of democratic participation.

Imposing digital application procedures unfairly impacts the elderly, many of whom are marginalised in terms of access to technology and digital literacy.

To accommodate the elderly, alternative procedures should have been provided.

These could have included options such as paper forms and staff assistance, instead of mobile phone usage.

Government departments must take note of these serious flaws when organising public hearings in the future, in order to secure maximum participation from all affected.

Minimising stress helps ensure that all voices are heard and valued.

LEE LAM THYE

Kuala Lumpur

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