Kuching South City Council and Curtin Malaysia join forces to create an age-friendly cityAugust 7, 2023 | Campus News
Miri – 5 August 2023 – In a bid to promote inclusivity and enhance the quality of life for its aging population, Kuching South City Council (MBKS) and Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on initiatives to transform Kuching South into an age-friendly city.
Recognising the growing importance of addressing the needs of older adults in the community, this strategic partnership aims to create an environment that respects and supports the aging population, ensuring that they can fully participate and contribute to society.
The MOU, signed by both parties during a signing ceremony at MBKS, outlines a series of joint initiatives that focus on improving the physical and social environments for Kuching South's elderly population. These initiatives aim to ensure better accessibility, safety, and opportunities for active participation in various aspects of community life.
The partnership will leverage the expertise and resources of Curtin Malaysia and the local knowledge of MBKS to design, pilot, and evaluate age-friendly interventions across diverse domains, including housing, transportation, health, and community services.
Signing on behalf of MBKS was Kuching South Mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng, while Curtin Malaysia Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Simon Leunig signed for the university.
According to Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr. Sim Kui Hian, who witnessed the signing, the entire ecosystem needs to be ready as Sarawak approaches an ageing society in the near future.
Dr. Sim, who is public health, housing and local government minister, pointed out that addressing an ageing society does not only require the necessary changes in public policies but also a conducive home environment. Citing Kuching’s relatively large elderly population, he said those aged 60 and above constituted 73,800 senior citizens or about 12.1 per cent of Kuching’s population.
“This requires our city councils and Curtin University Malaysia to look into doing something proactive in developing age-friendly cities and communities,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Mayor Wee said the MoU with Curtin Malaysia marked a significant milestone in MBKS’ efforts to create an age-friendly city. This is in light of the fact that about 10.4 per cent of Kuching South’s population of 174,625 people were aged 65 and above in 2020.
“Our aspiration is to cultivate an environment and foster a community that caters to the needs of the elderly and enhances the quality of life for all,” he said.
Professor Leunig, meanwhile, remarked that while ageing populations are a concern in many countries across the world, Malaysia's ageing population is growing at a faster-than-expected rate (faster than the global average) where more than 15 per cent of its population will be above the age of 65 by 2050.
“This demographic shift, including here in Sarawak, will have significant impacts on our society, economy, and institutions, bringing significant challenges in health, social care, housing, and retirement planning,” he said.
He said age-friendliness is about creating an environment where older adults can not only age gracefully but also actively participate and contribute to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of their community.
"Curtin Malaysia remains steadfast in its commitment to community engagement and social responsibility. Through this partnership, we will contribute our expertise and collaborate closely with MBKS to develop innovative solutions that will enhance the age-friendliness of Kuching South," Prof. Leunig added.
Also present at the signing were Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government Michael Tiang; MBKS Deputy Mayor Hilmy Othman; and Curtin Malaysia Pro-Chancellor Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr. George Chan.
Besides Kuching South, Curtin Malaysia also recently signed a MOU with the Sibu Municipal Council for similar initiatives to create an age-friendly city and community in Sibu. The related research and planning of initiatives for both cities will be spearheaded by the team of researchers at Curtin Malaysia’s South China Sea Research Hub in collaboration with the respective city councils.
For more information on Curtin Malaysia, visit https://www.curtin.edu.my or look for Curtin Malaysia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn or Tik-Tok.