Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Elderly support low: report

Elderly support low: report

Senior citizens have medical information recorded at a health clinic run by volunteers in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district in 2013
Senior citizens have medical information recorded at a health clinic run by volunteers in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district in 2013. Scott Howes

Elderly support low: report

For 70-year-old Chan Shay, the choice between working through old age and a retirement in poverty is an obvious one.

Shay, a cyclo driver in Phnom Penh, said that while he dreams of retiring to his home in Takeo province, in reality he can see no future outside of work.

“If the government set a policy to support old people, I would be very grateful,” he said.

While life expectancy is growing in Cambodia, government policies to improve the quality of life and well-being of the Kingdom’s elderly are not expanding, according to a report released yesterday by international NGO HelpAge.

In an index ranking 96 countries according to the social and economic well-being of older people, Cambodia placed 79th.

With just 5 per cent of the elderly population estimated to receive a formal pension, compared to a global average of 66 per cent, the report calls for “expansion of pension coverage for all older people aged 65 years and above”.

But Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia’s elderly were already cared for.

“In Cambodia, we never abandon our elderly to nursing homes. Some people don’t have their own kids, so the government tries to help them. If they prove that they cannot afford to pay medical bills, the government pays,” he said. “In private companies, the employer has an obligation to provide a pension. We [the government] take care of civil servants.”

But a 63-year-old retired civil servant, who asked not to be named, said that she had been forced to take a second job as a teacher at a private school to supplement her state pension.

“If we compare to market prices and the price of health care, the $50 I get [each month] isn’t enough,” she said.

But for Shay and thousands of others, any contribution would be an improvement.

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, whose party campaigned last year on a platform of offering a $10 monthly pension payment to individuals over the age of 65, said the policy needs to change.

“It’s a good time [now] that life expectancy has got better; however, [in terms of] a policy of protection for the elderly, there is nothing,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Western poll flak is ‘pressure to take the Kingdom hostage’

    After last month’s national elections brought praise for the orderly manner they were run and managed, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed criticism from the West as a “violation of the Kingdom’s independence”. He said the attitude of