PETALING JAYA: The Selangor manifestos of both Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional fail to prepare for a growing ageing population, a think tank has said.
Azrul Khalib, CEO of Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, said this was disappointing as both manifestos claimed to want to invest in Selangor’s future.
“This should not only be about the state’s past and present, but also its future, which includes older people or those who are aged,” he told FMT.
“This sub-population of voters may resent not seeing themselves in either manifesto.”
He said Malaysia was ill-prepared to support the needs of an ageing population, and Selangor should take the lead in investing, developing and expanding the care economy, especially elder care.
According to the department of statistics, the average life expectancy of Malaysian men and women is currently 72 and 77 years, respectively. It estimates that 7% of Malaysians are currently above 65, and forecasts that 15% will be 65 or older by 2030.
“What is Selangor doing to prepare for this future? Neither manifesto answers this question,” Azrul said. “It is as if the elderly population will disappear or be taken care of by their children and grandchildren.”
In their “Kita Selangor” manifesto, PH-BN promised to, among others, expand free health and mental health screenings, provide RM1,000 to mothers to reduce childcare expenses, train child caregivers, and provide childcare facilities at state government offices and local councils.
In its “Selangor Baharu, Kita Bangkit” manifesto, PN pledged, among others, to allocate RM50 million to establish childcare centres at the workplace, expand the Skim Peduli Sihat and Skim Perlindungan Perubatan to include households that earn RM5,000 or less, and provide RM500 monthly assistance for three months to help women who lost their spouse or are separated, with counselling services.
Azrul said both manifestos should prioritise the care economy, which involves providing essential support and specialised services for the aged, social and financial security systems, welfare services and realistic retirement schemes.
Education, affordable housing
Separately, Carmelo Ferlito of the Center for Market Education said PN’s manifesto was ambitious, and thus, more difficult to implement. By comparison, he said, PH-BN’s seemed to be slightly more realistic.
“However, both manifestos make many promises related to spending without outlining revenue sources. I think there should be more discussions on this.
“In general, I think the initiatives related to education are the most achievable ones. I would instead abandon the different targets on affordable housing,” Carmelo told FMT.
Similarly, Universiti Malaya senior economics lecturer Goh Lim Thye said both education and affordable housing were key manifesto issues and relevant to the state.
Given that food security was one of Malaysia’s top priorities, Goh welcomed the various incentives that farmers would receive.
“However, it is important to note that the success of these proposals is dependent on factors such as budget allocation, policy implementation and the political will of the coalition in power,” he told FMT.