Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said the government has not given up on building a village here for the growing aging population
Speaking at Taman Li Hua Community Association’s Chinese New Year gathering at a leading restaurant yesterday afternoon, Wong, who is also Minister of Environment and Public Health, said they scrapped such a project earlier on to give way to a centre for the disabled.
He said the centre now stands at Jalan Alan as the Agape Centre has been built, and so they would move on to build the ‘Silver Hair Village’.
“We cannot deny that the aging population is increasing in Malaysia because according to a national survey, about eight per cent of Malaysians will be people over 65 years old by 2020.”
He said a family report in 2004 showed that a third of the population were people 15 years old and below, but this figure is dropping.
“On the other hand, the number of those 25 to 65 years old is increasing. Our society is aging.”
In 2005, he said, another survey indicated that every 15 Malaysian workers had to care for an aged person.
“Today, we find that couples not only bring up their children; they have to take care of their elderly parents as well.”
He said this had become a task too great for working couples, and therefore, the building of the Silver Hair Village, a recreation and healthcare centre for the aged, could not be overlooked.
For the today’s youths, he said they must learn and get themselves ready to take care of their old parents.
As for senior citizens, he called on them not to retire too early from society as they have the experience to still make some useful contributions.
Wong said he was pleased with the completion of the Agape Centre, saying it was one of the best equipped centres for the disabled in Sarawak.
He praised Sibu Municipal Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King for his commitment, saying that he had played a major role in getting centre built.
He announced that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife would grace the opening of the centre today as part of their visit to central Sarawak.
He said there was another 3.75 acres next to Agape Centre that Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had designated for charity.
With that they had intended to extend the centre.
He said the Sarawak Blind Society, Sibu Branch had intended to move to a larger space due to their growing needs.
“We could incorporate the extension of Agape Centre for the blind and the aged as well.
“At the same time, we shall continue working on building the Silver Hair Village.”
At yesterday’s gathering, organising chairman Kong Chung Mieu handed over a souvenir to Wong. The association chairman is Penghulu Tiong Tung Uh.