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December 20, 2011

Prosecuting Children Who Abandon Parents Won't Do (MALAYSIA)

 December 16, 2011

It is the government's duty to place a systematic safety net for the elderly, says National Council of Senior Citizens' Organisations Malaysia
PETALING JAYA

Punishing children who abandoned their parents will not resolve the larger problem of the elderly being neglected, said the National Council of Senior Citizens’ Organisations Malaysia (NACSCOM).
Its president, Lum Kin Tuck, said this in response to DAP chairman Karpal Singh’s recent call to make it illegal for children to abandon their aged parents.
Karpal, the Bukit Gelugor MP, has proposed a Maintenance of Parent’s Act which he will push for in the next parliamentary sitting to arrest the rising number of abandonment of senior citizens.
His proposal came in the wake of a latest survey which showed that 675,000 citizens aged 60 and above have been abandoned and do not receive financial support from their children.
This means that one in three senior citizens have been deserted by their children.
India, Taiwan and Singapore have a similar law in place where punishment includes hefty fines or imprisonment on errant children.
Karpal suggested that Malaysia emulates such countries and punish errant children as it will lessen the burden of the state and taxpayers.
Lum, however, said such a law may not necessarily work and that it was the government’s duty to place a systematic safety net for the elderly.
Lum, who has been advocating the rights of senior citizens for 20 years, said that the law implemented in Singapore was not successful as parents refused to drag their children to court.
He said that the responsibility to care for the elderly fell on society and the government as the senior citizens have contributed to the progress of the country.
“They should be entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labour and not be neglected,” said the 94-year-old Lum, adding that the problem can be tackled systematically via a taxation policy.
He suggested a system akin to a social welfare system where society’s contribution acts as a safety net for the elderly who are less fortunate.
“The government should impose heavier taxes on the high-income group – the millionaires. Karpal also should not be afraid that he has to pay higher income tax because of this.
“When you die, you will not take a single cent with you. Think kindly of the elderly and poor, they should live out their old age with dignity and not allowed to suffer; it is sinful,” he said.
Systematic changes needed
Lum said that the problem of abandonment was prevalent due to the rising cost of living and poor policies such as the lack of a minimum wage, low EPF payout, and low pensions.
“You know we don’t have a minimum wage policy. If you get RM800 a month, how can you take care of your parents?
“The EPF is also a small amount. At the height of my career about 40 years ago, I earned RM1,400. My pension is half that amount.
“Where is it enough to take care of all the expenses a senior citizen may incur? If I depend on my pension, then I cannot survive.
“Senior citizens may want to live alone so as not to be a burden on their children. Then you have medical expenses. A paltry sum is not sufficient to cover these expenses,” he said.
He said that the government had given him a grant of RM2 million to open five senior citizen day-care and two old folks homes which NACSCOM operates.
But despite this readily available grants, Lum said that systematic changes were still vital to solve the issue of abandonment of the elderly.
“Instilling values in the young is important but the systematic changes could guarantee a safety-net to the rising number of ageing population,” said Lum.
“People today may live up to 100 years old with all the advances in medical sciences. You retire at 60, then how are you going to survive for the next 40 years without sufficient funds to live?”
Lawmakers were reserved when asked if they would support such a Bill. Although the issue was worrying, they said they would wait for details of the Bill before responding.


Abridged
SOURCE:    FreeMalaysia Today
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