More than half of the homes for the elderly in Penang remain unlicenced despite the state government’s efforts to register them, state executive councillor Chong Eng. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
By Opalyn Mok
Thursday, 02 Jun 2022 11:03 AM MYT
GEORGE TOWN, June 2 — More than half of the homes for the elderly in Penang remain unlicenced despite the state government’s efforts to register them, state executive councillor Chong Eng revealed in the state legislative assembly here today.
The social development and non-Islamic religious affairs committee chairman said only 28 out of 84 senior citizens centres in Penang are unlicenced, the remaining 56 have yet to register.
In comparison, she said the majority of nurseries and kindergartens have been licenced though there were still a number that had yet get their operating licence.
“We have been advising and reaching out to these centres to apply for licence but it is not easy to get them to come forward,” she replied to PKR backbencher A. Kumaresan representing Batu Uban.
Chong said there is a total of 123 licenced nurseries in Penang and 45 unlicenced while a total of 461 kindergartens are licenced and 86 are unlicenced.
“We have been holding dialogue sessions with the operators of these centres to explain the process of registration and licencing,” she said.
She said consultation sessions were also held to identify and assist operators to register.
When Kumaresan asked if any stern action is taken against centres that refused to register and apply for licencing, Chong said the authorities can only take a soft approach by advising the centres.
“These are centres for babies or senior citizens so we can’t be going in to take the babies or senior citizens away, where are we to place them? So what we can do is to advise and engage them to encourage them to register,” she said.
She added that there is also a shortage of such centres in Penang so the state government will have to find ways to set up more of such centres.
“Many people see this service as a business but I see this as a social service and till today, the state could not provide such a service,” she said.
She said these services for children and senior citizens were dependent on the private sector.
“There are some non-governmental organisations that provide these services at low fees or for free so this is social service that the state has to help so that more of such services will be made available,” she said.
Chong said the state has allocated RM300,000 for a three-year period until 2023 as grants to upgrade nurseries and daycare centres.
“For the first quarter of this year, a grant totalling RM194,138.98 was approved for 11 centres to aid in the centres’ financial burden and improve their services,” she said.
As a measure to encourage more centres to register under the state’s whitelisting exercise, she said the registration process was simplified and some terms were reduced.
She said the social development committee, in collaboration with the state welfare department, local government committee and the fire and rescue department held a consultation session with unlicenced nursery and daycare centre operators between May 17 and 19.
“A total 41 nursery operators and 62 daycare centre operators attended the session and out of those who attended, 21 nurseries and 34 daycare centres were eligible to apply for registration,” she said.