IPOH, Nov 7 – Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Howard Lee Chuan How is pushing for policy discussions on aged care in the country’s oldest state, Perak, as the 15th general election campaign kicks off.
Lee – who is running for Parliament for the first time in Ipoh Timor that has been held by the DAP since 2004 – said Malaysia is in “uncharted waters”, with three-cornered fights making up the majority of the 222 contested seats in Parliament.
“It is unprecedented because we have no basis of comparison in terms of historical data for us to project and traject what is going to happen in this particular election. More so when the three corners minimum that we’re seeing nationwide consist of three coalitions or groups, all of which have been government at state and the federal level.
“This brings a completely new paradigm where we can really focus on, not just about politics, not just about who’s working with who – we need to start talking about policies,” Lee, who is a DAP central executive committee member, told voters at the 66 Food Court Station in the Perak state capital of Ipoh yesterday.
The 39-year-old highlighted PH’s care economy agenda in its GE15 election manifesto “Kita Boleh! Harapan GE15 Action Plan,” which aims to professionalise the care sector, and build capacity and training to achieve an ideal caregiver support ratio. If elected into federal government, PH plans to table a National Care Economy and Ageing Community Preparedness Plan in Parliament.
PH also pledges to “institutionalise” caregiver assistance and allowance, targeted at caregivers who are forced to quit employment to provide care for family members.
The coalition is also proposing third-party contributions to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and an Elderly Protection Scheme under the Social Security Organisation (Socso) to avoid a retirement poverty crisis.
“This is an agenda-based election. If it’s not one yet, we must make it an agenda-based election,” Lee said. “For real democratisation, we need real policy changes. And to do policy changes, we need to have people with the will to make policy changes through power, not to take power simply for power.”
Lee said the context for PH’s care economy is Pasir Pinji, a state constituency in Ipoh Timor. As a former Pasir Pinji assemblyman, Lee pointed out that Pasir Pinji has the highest old-age dependency ratio in Malaysia. “Poor and old people are mostly in Pasir Panji.”
In explaining the care economy, Lee said: “The care economy is when someone needs care, there is someone to care for him or her. And the people who are there and trained to take care of them are people who are paid with a decent wage.
“This means that if you are a carer, you are the same level as the nurse, as the physiotherapist. And I hope that one day they will be at the same level as a doctor.”
Lee is contesting Ipoh Timor against Ng Kai Cheong (Barisan Nasional-MCA) and Nor Afzainizam Salleh (Perikatan Nasional-Bersatu).
Speaking at the same event, veteran DAP political leader and former two-term Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang described GE15 as the “most important” of all elections in Malaysia’s history.
Lim called on all voters in Perak to cast their ballots in droves and reiterated his backing for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as PH’s prime minister candidate.
“For the 10th PM, Anwar is the most qualified, suitable candidate,” Lim said. “If the voting percentage is high, then Perak will play an important role in PH’s victory in the whole of Malaysia.”
Anwar is contesting in the Tambun parliamentary seat against incumbent Ahmad Faizal Azumu (Perikatan Nasional-Bersatu), Aminuddin Md Hanafiah (Barisan Nasional-Umno), and Abdul Rahim Tahir (Gerakan Tanah Air-Pejuang).