Continue to contribute, senior citizens told

James Kon

Age is not an obstacle for senior citizens to continue to be active in contributing to the community’s welfare and nation building. This could be seen when the country was struck by COVID-19, senior citizens worked together to ensure the welfare of those needing protection which included other senior citizens.

This was said by Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari at the launch of the Wargamas Association’s second annual general meeting at Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan yesterday.

“Senior citizens are a country’s valuable assets, not only because of their services and contributions to building the society, but also their knowledge and experience that can be emulated by the future generations. They are the role models who provide guidance in life, she said.

She said it is undeniable that the well-being and development, especially in shaping today’s society, success and excellence that the country enjoys are the result of sacrifices made by previous generations who are now senior citizens.

“Senior citizens should be respected and given due attention, as well as being granted their rights. They need to be taken care of to ensure the continuity of a more meaningful quality of life for them.”

The permanent secretary said, “Alhamdulillah, integrated cooperation has made headway in empowering and raising the standard of living in communities. The MCYS needs close cooperation from strategic partners to achieve Brunei Vision 2035. The Wargamas Association plays a vital role in uniting the country’s senior citizens to support the efforts towards achieving the nation’s vision.”

Outgoing Wargamas Chair Pengiran Haji Mohd Salleh bin Pengiran Haji Kamaluddin presents a memento to Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari.
Attendees at the launch of Wargamas Association’s second annual general meeting. PHOTOS: JAMES KON

The permanent secretary also shared initiatives implemented to support senior citizen movements in the country.

She said, “The Senior Citizen Activity Centre (PKWE) was launched in the Temburong District in January 2020 and in the Belait District in February 2020. This shows the continued support given to senior citizens, and we are confident that PKWE will continue to expand and move forward, and be utilised by Wargamas members in forging and strengthening social networks among senior citizens.”

She said the MCYS also introduced PKWE guidelines in August 2020 to ensure management, administration and finance will be implemented efficiently, systematically and in an orderly manner.

Hajah Nor Ashikin shared that the ministry has prepared provisions for PKWE to start their business. “PKWE is also involved in providing school uniforms to generate income,” she added.

She said the MCYS will continue to work with the government, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to ensure objectives of the Senior Citizen Action Plan will be achieved to develop the potential of senior citizens.

She expressed confidence that Wargamas as grassroots leaders will continue to be proactive, mindful and caring, as well as work with government agencies and strategic partners.

In addition, she said, the association is hoped to carry on being the voice and ear of the people, especially senior citizens, to achieve ‘Bangsa Brunei Cemerlang’, the aspiration of
the country.

Meanwhile, outgoing Wargamas Chair Pengiran Haji Mohd Salleh bin Pengiran Haji Kamaluddin said five crucial requests of the association have been forwarded to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s Government.

“There is a request to have a yearly provision for the Wargamas Association amounting to BND30,000 similar to the provision provided to the Brunei Youth Council. Secondly, the request for the elderly pension to be increased.

“We have also requested that senior citizens with BND12,000 and above in SCP are able to withdraw all monies at once, instead of having to wait another 20 years.

“We also hope for the support of the MCYS and the Ministry of Home Affairs, by granting us available land in the vicinity of Pasar Gadong for use as the Wargamas Wisma building.”

He also expressed hope that the country’s senior citizen policy will be reviewed.