BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) wants to establish new activity centres for senior citizens in the Temburong and Brunei-Muara district.

On the sidelines of an event to mark the International Day of Older Persons, Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila Dato Paduka Hj Abd Jalil, said that MCYS is currently in talks with LegCo members from Temburong on the feasibility of establishing a centre there.

She noted that the ministry also wishes to expand existing ones in an efforts to strengthen senior citizens’ involvement in the wider community.

During the event on Thursday, 120 participants from senior citizen activity centres in Brunei-Muara, Tutong and Belait districts were given the opportunity to take part in a workshop to discuss issues relating to the elderly.

“Among the issues raised is how existing centres need improvement. This is a good [recommendation] because it shows that the centres are being used and that there is a demand for it,” she told The Scoop yesterday.

MCYS Permanent Secretary Datin Paduka Dr Hjh Norlila (2R) during an event to mark International Day of Older Persons on October 11, 2018. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

She said that one of the ministry’s goals is to ensure that each district has an activity centre for senior citizens so they can socialise with one another and not feel left out by society.

Acknowledging Brunei-Muara as the most populated district, the permanent secretary said they are looking into establishing another activity centre in the district to add to the existing one in Lambak Kanan.

Datin Dr Hjh Norlila went on to say that the ministry is committed in ensuring the welfare of the country’s elderly and hopes that with the strengthened attention towards the more senior demographic, that the elderly would be more proactive in involving themselves in the wider community.

“For the activity centres to run, senior citizens need to be dedicated in creating programmes and activities… and the ministry will do its part by supporting the centres’ initiatives.”

Acting Director of the Community Development Department (JAPEM), Rostinah Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Sura Pahlawan Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Tahir, said that once the new centres are established, it will be come a focal point for not only the elderly but also members of the public who wish to conduct activities that are inclusive of senior citizens.

“During the day [when] their families are busy with work and grandchildren are at school,  the elderly have the tendency to be lonely. With the centres, they [the elderly] have a place to go to and mingle with one another.”

She added that in the future, if feasible, they may consider providing transportation for the elderly who are unable to drive due to poor eyesight, adding that it may coincide with their future plans to expand existing activity centres.

The theme for this year’s International Day for Older Persons is “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions”.