KUALA LUMPUR: About a third of the 1,574 people living in the Welfare Department's old folks home are people abandoned by their children, signalling a serious problem in Malaysia.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said "abandoned parents" had come about as their children moved to urban areas or overseas to seek greener pastures.
She acknowledged the importance of educating youths on family values to ensure that they care for their parents.
Chew called on non-governmental organisations to join hands and support the Government's efforts in caring for senior citizens.
"We would like to ensure that the family institution remains pivotal for shelter, food, healthcare and emotional support of the elderly," she said at the 25th annual general meeting of the National Council of Senior Citizens Organisations Malaysia (Nacscom) yesterday.
Chew also urged senior citizens to pool their experiences together and contribute to productive ageing through community activities.
Malaysia, she said, had some 2.7 million people - which is 8.8 per cent of the total population - aged 60 and above. This number is expected to rise to 4.9 million (15 per cent) by 2030, making the country an aging nation.
Chew added that the people should plan for their old age to avoid being a financial burden to their families and the country.
Nacscom president Datuk Dr Soon Ting Kueh has called for the setting up of a Senior Citizens Affairs Department to look into the social and financial security of the group.