University and council ink deal for age-friendly initiatives in Sibu

Posted on 04 Jul 2023
Source of News: The Star (Andy Chua)

Prof Leunig (second from right) and Ting (second from left) showing the signed document witnessed by Tiang (third from right).Prof Leunig (second from right) and Ting (second from left) showing the signed document witnessed by Tiang (third from right).

SIBU, in Sarawak, is on the threshold of becoming an age-friendly city, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) and Curtin Malaysia.

Under the MoU, both organisations will commit to developing and implementing age-friendly initiatives to improve the quality of life for older persons.

“The age-friendly city and community initiative aims to create a social and physical environment that supports active and healthy ageing, promotes inclusion and participation as well as enhances the well-being of older adults,” said Curtin Malaysia pro vice-chancellor Prof Simon Leunig.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, he said the university would also tap into their expertise and resources as well as leverage on SMC’s knowledge to design, pilot and evaluate age-friendly interventions across diverse domains, including housing, transportation, health and community services.

“This milestone project will be based on the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which encourages active ageing by optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age,” said Prof Leunig, who is also Curtin Malaysia’s president and chief executive officer.

He said the project was timely as the world’s population was rapidly ageing.

Malaysia and Sarawak too will be aged societies by 2030, he noted.

Citing information from Malaysia’s Statistics Department on the nation’s ageing population, he said it was growing at a faster-than-expected rate – even faster than the global average – where more than 15% of the population would be above 65 years old by 2050.

This demographic shift will have significant impacts on Malaysia’s society, economy and institutions, bringing significant challenges in health, social care, housing and retirement planning, he highlighted.

“Therefore, it is pertinent for Malaysia to be ready to provide the infrastructure and environment for its ageing population,” said Prof Leunig.

“We are glad SMC is taking the lead, and Curtin Malaysia is pleased to partner with SMC to be at the forefront in the initiative to prepare Sibu for this journey.

“It is a remarkable achievement and we look forward to the implementation phase of this partnership and seeing a vibrant and age-friendly community in Sibu in the years to come,” he added.

Prof Leunig and SMC chairman Clarence Ting signed the MoU, witnessed by Sarawak Public Health, Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister Michael Tiang Ming Tee. — By ANDY CHUA