Friday, January 24, 2014


I read with great interest the different opinions given by Netizens regarding the need for law on filial piety in Malaysia and I have to say that the time is right to enact a bill that can protect the well-being of the elderly especially those who are in need of special care and attention. Filial piety has always been one of the key virtues emphasised in Asian societies and it is diminishing in importance at a very alarming rate. I am not sure what the root cause for this lack of empathy and compassion is but the number of cases of the elderly being neglected and abandoned in Malaysia is certainly growing. To me, the bond between children and their parents can never be broken despite children being abused, neglected or disowned by their parents when the children were young. Because of this, some people might think that they are not obligated to care for their parents since their parents did not carry out their parental duties as should be. It is sad to hear when children have to justify their reluctance to care for their parents due to some unfortunate events that happened in the past. There is no way that we can turn back time but there is always a way that we can correct a situation. Some people even try to shift the duty of caring of their parents to others. I have seen quite a few cases of senior citizens being left totally in the care of strangers. There have also been cases of children marrying off their widowed parents so their parents can be taken care of by their more able-bodied spouses. Some only send the monthly financial support and come to visit only once a year. Some send their parents to live with a relative or neighbour who is willing to keep an eye on them as long as the money keeps coming in. Some ask one of their siblings to take care of them and totally forget that they should be sharing the responsibility too.Some even go to the extent of quoting religious verses by saying that taking care of one's parents is the duty of the sons or the eldest or whatever that they can use to free them of the responsibility. Some who are more affluent provide servants for the parents and think that they do not have to do anything else since the servants are paid to take care of their parents. And the saddest part is when there are some who totally abandon their parents and leave it to various organisations to shoulder the responsibility without the slightest feeling of guilt at all. The examples that I have provided are not comprehensive but they might give us an idea how bad the situation is with some of the elderly. We have to look into this issue now since currently, there are more than 2.4 million people in Malaysia who are above 60 years old and the number is certainly growing. The Malaysian society is changing and the once accepted traditional way of caring for the elderly might not work anymore. Elderly care is not easy and can be quite expensive sometimes. It should be shared and that is why I think a new bill that can be proposed and passed. No one should ever have to spend the rest of his or her remaining days without adequate emotional, financial, social and medical support. At the same time, other aspects of elderly care such as accommodation, assistance, recreation and safety should also be considered. It is the right of every human being to live with dignity and that also includes those who are getting on in years.