KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 – Bandar Kuching hopeful Dr Kelvin Yii said today that one of the main policies he would push in Parliament – if Pakatan Harapan (PH) wins federal power – is a National Care Economy and Ageing Community Preparedness Plan and elder-friendly policies.
The incumbent MP from DAP, who is defending his Parliament seat for PH in the 15th general election, noted that his constituency in the capital of Sarawak is an ageing community, with 32 per cent of voters aged 61 years and above.
Malaysia has already reached ageing nation status, with the population aged 65 years and above expected to reach 7.3 per cent this year, according to the Economic Outlook 2023 Report by the Finance Ministry, meeting the 7 per cent threshold for the conventional international definition of an “ageing society”.
A November 2020 report by the World Bank projected that Malaysia would become an “aged society” by 2044, with 14 per cent of the population expected to be above 65 years old. Come 2056, Malaysia will be a “super-aged society”, with over 20 percent of its population above the age of 65.
“In the past four years serving Sarawak capital, I often receive calls from elderly constituents who are living alone asking for help as they have no one to go to,” Dr Yii said in a statement.
“That is why the government must assist the elder to live with dignity and independently while getting sufficient health care support.
“Without systemic intervention, the impact of an ageing population is enormous – from a decline in productivity and economic growth to heightened pressure on public spending programs, such as health care and pensions.”
Dr Yii, however, suggested that issues from an ageing population could be turned into an economic asset, rather than a burden.
“This includes incorporating a ‘care economy’ to train carers, and to provide subsidised care and carer allowances so that Malaysians are not forced to choose between work and caring for their elderly parents.
“This also seeks to professionalise the caregiving sector, provide support and allowances for caregivers, as well as tax incentives for employers of caregivers.”
PH’s care economy proposal – as stated in its GE15 election manifesto – is primarily founded on professionalising the caregiving sector by building up capacity and training to achieve caregiver support in accordance with the ageing population by 2035.
The coalition also proposes mandating one-stop caregiving facilities in property development plans, besides expanding mobile care services.
Dr Yii also said a care economy would help boost the female labour participation rate – which fell to 51 per cent in 2021 from 52 per cent in 2019, according to World Bank figures – noting that women were often made to be informal caregivers to their parents and children.
“More and more women are now breadwinners of the family and shouldering more responsibilities since the pandemic hit. Such policy can allow a more flexible workforce for women and young families, which will help to increase productivity,” he said.
“No one should ever be put in that position where they must make a choice between working and caring for their parents.”
Dr Yii will be running in Bandar Kuching against Tay Tze Kok (GPS-SUPP) and Voon Lee Shan (PBK).