New legal regime for ‘rights and guarantees of the elderly’ given the green light

Leong Heng Teng (left) and Vong Yim Mui


The Executive Council (ExCo) concluded its analysis of several administrative regulations for topics related to social welfare matters, namely efforts to deal with the mistreatment of senior citizens, the council spokesperson Leong Heng Teng announced at a press conference yesterday.

Leong presented the results of the conclusion of an analysis of the new legal regime titled “Legal Regime of the rights and interests of elderly citizens,” which aims to prevent the mistreatment of senior citizens. The regime is proposed to enter into force 90 days after its publication.

The ExCo spokesperson justified the relevance of such a regime, with the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) noting that according to  studies, “it’s predicted that by 2036 the number of elderly people in the Macau SAR will reach 20.7 percent of the total population.” Leong noted that the idea behind the regime is to “encourage respect for the elderly and to promote the protection of their rights.”

IAS president Vong Yim Mui expressed the wish that society would wake up to the issue. “Although all these points are constant from the Basic Law and civil and penal code regimes, we think this legal regime can contribute to calling the attention of people towards this problematic treatment [of elderly people],” Vong said. “The responsibility of family members as well as institutions that provide care to the elderly is already well established in the laws of Macau.”

Vong said also that the regime has the purpose of raising awareness and advising people about practices that can constitute a crime, such as “the lack of provision of food and lodging to elderly people that can result in seriously detrimental conditions for them.”

Questioned by the media on the number of cases of elder abuse in the region, Vong said, “There aren’t many – it may be only a few occasional cases. In fact, it is not very common, but we want the law to both prevent and to serve as an awareness factor.”

In one of the few innovations brought by the regime, the IAS will be able to interfere in dispute resolution between the elderly and their family members on topics relating to food provision, housing and property assets.

The president of IAS noted that, “Elderly people usually become exposed during these cases due to lack of support and knowledge.” In such cases, the Bureau proposes to tackle the incapacity of the elderly by providing special support to them.

In another conclusion made by the ExCo, the government proposed a bill that aims to concede tax incentives to the companies that hire people with disabilities.

The measure that aims to fulfill the governance policies regarding the need to “grant to people the right to employment” that comes from the government policy address.

The bill proposes to grant a benefit that, according to ExCo spokesperson Leong Heng Teng, could be of MOP5,000 per person as long as such workers agree to work for a minimum of 128 hours each month.

The effective amount of tax that would be deducted is still unknown, as it will depend directly on the decision of the Chief Executive.
The bill is proposed to have a backdate mechanism to the year 2016 and could directly affect a total of 12,000 people in region.

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