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Social workers urge more government efforts

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Chief Executive Chui Sai On visited social services centres and met with dozens of representatives from the sector to listen to their views. He expressed the authority’s commitment to social welfare but some participants are critical of the administration’s work in this field and wanted the authority to exert extra efforts in providing medical care to the elderly and guidance on family values for the young people.

Chui, in the company of Ng Siu Lai, president of General Union for Neighborhood Associations (known as ‘Kai Fong’ in Cantonese) and the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Cheong U, visited an elderly care centre in Fai Chi Kei yesterday afternoon to greet the senior citizens receiving services there. He inspected the workers helping the senior citizens with rehabilitation treatments or using recreational facilities.

Chui was given an entertaining reception by a group of elderly women dressed up in colorful costume who performed a traditional Chinese dance, accompanied by several pieces of soft music and pop songs in Mandarin Chinese.

After staying for about half an hour, Chui headed to another social centre, the Kai Chi Child Development Centre to see the education programs provided to mentally handicapped pre-school children.
After staying for another half hour to watch a slideshow on the training services the centre provides to the youngsters, Chui left for the Tourist Activity Centre in Gomes Road and met with members of the Committee for the Affairs of Senior Citizens and the Council of Social Welfare.

Following the over-one-hour meeting, Chui said senior citizens contributed their lifetime to the construction and prosperity of Macau and it was the government’s responsibility and commitment to take care of this group of citizens.

Chui stressed that many senior citizens are still doing activities after retirement age to contribute to the society, and he had been giving special attentions to their advice through his career life. As for the less well-off elderly who are often neglected by their families and the society, Chui promised to shoulder the responsibility of providing proper care and support to them.

But some representatives attending the meeting believed that the Chui administration must do more in this aspect.

Lim Kie Leng, member of the Central Council of Red Cross (MSAR) told Macau Daily Times yesterday that the government must invest more efforts into medical care for elderly, especially specialist treatments which, she said were extremely difficult for senior citizens to gain access to. While acknowledging the administration’s works in serving the aged group, such as the coordination and supports provided to the Red Cross’s escort program for aged citizens with physical problems, she also pointed out that a lot more work had to be done in improving the living standards of the grey-haired.  
Her views were echoed by Ng Siu Lai, who said to Chui in their earlier meeting in the elderly centre, that the government had been doing a lot of works to provide caring services for the local grey-haired group but she hoped the administration further improve its work in this respect.  In addition to elderly care, other aspects of social services issues were also raised in the meeting. Chung Chi Kin, member of the Council of Social Services told Macau Daily Times that the divorce rate is alarmingly high in the city. “It has reached 28 percent now after a long period of continuous rise,” he said, ”and the period of 5 to 9 years after marriage is specially risky for local couples, many of them separate within this period.”

“There are many factors that led to this complicated situation.” He added, and, again, the source was traced to the heavy reliance on gaming industry: “young people leave school sooner now because they can easily get a job in any of the casinos. After working a few years they have the basic financial means and many of them rushed to get married.”
“The problem is not marriage itself,” he stressed, "but that many of them are just too young to even have a deep understanding of the whole set of family values and the importance of marriage. As a result, marriage breaks up more easily than before.”

“I’m the archdeacon of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau, the Catholic Church is against divorce but this is more than religious problem, it is also a general social problem in its broader sense.” He urged the government to provide more counseling and education programs to help the younger generation on family values and social responsibilities.

Some representatives, however, complained of the arrangements of the meeting. “There are too many people but each one is only given two minutes for airing their views, it’s too short and I don’t even know how to summarize so much problems into two minutes of speech,” a member of the Council of Social Services told MDTImes, while another said: “even we expressed our views, it is difficult to expect the Chief Executive to have proper response to us at the scene, as there are simply too many people.” But he also conceded that the meeting, though a little bit crowded, provided a useful platform for social workers from different fields to share their opinions and directly reflectcentre their views to the top leader of the government.

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Responsible Right of Expression — In the interest of freedom of expression, coupled with a true sense of responsibility to encourage community dialogue, the Macau Daily Times offers its readers the opportunity to express their opinions on new-related matters through this website. All opinions are welcome. However, we reserve the right to remove comments that are deemed to be obscene, or are merely insults written under the cloak of anonymity. MDT