Relearn value filial piety

It is important to instil filial piety in the younger generation. FILE PIC

MORE often than not, we hear stories of senior citizens being abandoned by their children and relatives, left to fend for themselves or forced to live in a welfare home

In Malaysia, senior citizens are defined as those aged 60 years and above, according to the definition made at the World Assembly on Ageing 1982 in Vienna, Austria.

As a senior citizen, I am left bereft after reading stories of the elderly who are neglected, especially those who still have children or relatives. It shows a lack of filial piety, which, in the Chinese community, refers to the important virtue and primary duty of respect, obedience and care for one’s parents and elderly family members.

At programmes that I have attended around the country, many senior citizens express sadness that their children or relatives do not visit or call them.

This is not something new — as the former chairman of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital Board of Visitors in the 1990s, I’ve handled many such cases.

At that time, I had to get funds from the private sector to help settle the medical, food and laundry bills of about 12 senior citizens who were abandoned at the hospital.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre geriatric specialist Dr Hazlina Mahadzir recently said a special act should be introduced to safeguard the wellbeing of senior citizens and those who’ve been abandoned by their children and relatives.

She said failure to visit or give proper attention to their elderly parents could be considered neglect and subjected to legal action to prevent children from forgetting their filial duty.

I never imagined that we would need such a legislation but the negative development in recent years may justify such a drastic action to stop the problem from worsening.

We are proud of our eastern culture that teaches the young to be polite and respect the elderly, but such noble values are diminishing.

Many people think that if parents can be charged for abandoning their children, the same should be taken against children who neglect their parents.

We must remember that our parents — those still with us — are prone to accidents or become victims of crime. They can have mental health problems such as depression and senility.

This is serious given the fact that Malaysia will be considered an ageing nation when seven per cent of its population will be 65 years and older by 2030

Since the cost of living is expected to increase in years to come, it is important to provide a safety net, including allowing senior citizens to work.

The government could emulate the approach taken by advanced countries, which offer financial incentives to employers who hire or retain older workers and subsidise their job training.

The country must have a comprehensive social security programme since studies show that the retirement income of elderly people is inadequate.

Non-governmental organisations should be set up to care for senior citizens, especially those who suffer from illness. We need to help them remain in the community by providing daycare centres and day hospitals, social clubs, rehabilitation, counselling and advice centres, volunteer schemes and home nursing.

The “home-help volunteer” programme under the Welfare Department, for example, helps to solve problems of senior citizens in their neighbourhood. The volunteers visit the senior citizens at least three times a month, as well as monitor their health and social development.

The aim is to ensure that they have a quality life in their twilight years.

The most important thing for us is to practise noble values, including respecting and caring for the elderly. Filial piety must be instilled in the younger generation.

By TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/11/434062/relearn-value-filial-piety

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