Malaysian se­nior cit­i­zens still can­not af­ford to re­tire


One in five Malaysians, aged 60 and above, work. And al­most 70 per­cent of them do it be­cause they have to.

Women, Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ro­hani Ab­dul Karim said 21 per­cent of the coun­try’s se­nior pop­u­la­tion were still work­ing past re­tire­ment age.

The ma­jor­ity do so to sus­tain them­selves, ac­cord­ing to the re­cently com­pleted fifth Malaysian Pop­u­la­tion and Fam­ily Sur­vey.

“Want­ing to re­main ac­tive, re­fus­ing to de­pend on oth­ers, pay­ing off loans and not hav­ing any­one to rely on are also why se­niors con­tinue to work,” she said.

Con­ducted ev­ery 10 years to mon­i­tor pop­u­la­tion and fam­ily sys­tem changes, the sur­vey cov­ers more than 10,000 house­holds.

“A to­tal of 69 per­cent of work­ing se­niors sur­veyed said they need the money for daily ex­penses. Only 11.6 per­cent said they work to keep them­selves oc­cu­pied,” she said.

Ro­hani was re­spond­ing to Sun­day Star’s July 26 front-page re­port on how poor re­tire­ment sav­ings and low fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy faced by a soar­ing pop­u­la­tion of se­niors are among the rea­sons why Malaysia is not pre­pared to be­come an ag­ing na­tion.

She said 42 per­cent of se­niors had zero sav­ings.

“Al­most 85 per­cent of those with­out sav­ings say they didn’t have enough money to save (when they were younger) but 3.5 per­cent said it never oc­curred to them to do so,” Ro­hani said, adding that 16 per­cent of se­niors did not save be­cause they thought they could de­pend on their chil­dren.

The good news is that most se­niors are re­ceiv­ing strong sup­port from their fam­i­lies.

Chil­dren gave their par­ents cash (80 per­cent), food and ne­ces­si­ties ( 68 per­cent), and care ( 62 per­cent), ac­com­pany or drive their par­ents around (71 per­cent), help with house­hold chores (64 per­cent), pay bills ( 49 per­cent) and lis­ten to their grouses (57 per­cent), said Ro­hani.

Although only 35 per­cent of se­niors con­sid­ered them­selves healthy, a whop­ping 67 per­cent said they never felt lonely, she added.

Ro­hani said the Gov­ern­ment was aware of the pop­u­la­tion’s chang­ing age struc­ture and the rapid de­cline in fer­til­ity.

Malaysia’s cur­rent pop­u­la­tion is 30.4 mil­lion.

“Due to un­prece­dented rapid de­cline in fer­til­ity, we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing changes in the pop­u­la­tion struc­ture,” she said.

By 2020, 50 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion will be aged over 29.9 years. Those aged 60 and above are ex­pected to in­crease to 12.6 per­cent by 2030.

To ad­dress the na­tion’s ag­ing is­sues, Univer­siti Pu­tra Malaysia’s In­sti­tute of Geron­tol­ogy was up­graded to Malaysian Re­search In­sti­tute on Ag­ing in March, said Ro­hani.

She urged the cen­ter to con­duct more geron­tol­ogy stud­ies as it would set the pol­icy di­rec­tion for the el­derly.

“Our fer­til­ity has dropped from three ba­bies per mother in 2000 to 1.9 in 2015. My min­istry is study­ing the best op­tion for pop­u­la­tion poli­cies,” she said.

“A new and more in­no­va­tive strate­gic plan of ac­tion needs to be iden­ti­fied.”

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