I REFER to the report “Waytha: New law to protect neglected parents being planned” (The Star, Feb 4).
The statistics do not lie; Malaysia’s ageing population is swelling very fast. By 2020, the number of people aged 65 and above is expected to reach two million, and by 2040, it is supposed to be six million.
The Women, Family and Community Development and Health ministries will be hard-pressed to ensure that adequate healthcare, financial resources, infrastructure and organised programmes are in place to cater to our growing elderly population.
The two biggest concerns related to an ageing population are poverty and non-communicable diseases.
We frequently read horror stories about aged parents being abused by their children physically and mentally or being abandoned in old folks homes or nursing homes.
It is good that our government is willing to study the proposal to create a new law to protect parents who are being neglected by their children, as announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waythamoorthy recently.
I have read that in Hong Kong, adult children have a moral duty to provide financial support for their elderly parents.
However, in many other countries including Singapore, China, the United States and Canada, adult children, depending on their financial situation, are required by law to provide their elderly parents with a minimum standard of living.
But legislation may have a negative effect on family harmony and may not be effective as it is difficult to enforce. Filial responsibility, I believe, could best be encouraged by incentive schemes such as providing tax rebates and community support services to help carers of the elderly.
Government has an important role in formulating policies that reward and encourage care for the elderly by their families.
It is also good that the national health protection scheme for the B40 group, Peduli Kesihatan (Peka B40), addresses some core issues in healthcare access for cancer and non-communicable diseases especially among the elderly population.
C. SATHASIVAM SITHERAVELLU
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