Sarawak govt to provide free insurance, welfare support to B40 households starting 2024

Dr Sim (fourth right) lighting the lamp to mark the Chariots Festival witnessed by other distinguished guests at Kuching Waterfront on Oct 7, 2023.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 7: The Sarawak government aims to provide free insurance and welfare assistance for the lower income or B40 households annually starting next year.

Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian emphasised that this initiative aims to enhance the social safety net, beginning with poor households in light of the projected demographic shift, with Sarawak expected to transition into an ageing society by 2028.


“This means seven per cent of Sarawak’s population will be 65 or older, and we are concurrently grappling with declining birth rates, recording only 20,000 births against 16,000 deaths.

“We need to take care of our ageing populace,” he said when addressing the 14th Rath Yathra, an annual Chariots festival of the Indian community organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Kuching at Kuching Waterfront tonight.

Dr Sim, who is also Minister of Public Health, Housing, and Local Government Sarawak, further disclosed that after addressing the needs of the B40 group, the welfare protection scheme will gradually encompass middle-income households (M40) and eventually extend to all Sarawakians.

One of the chariots parked at the Kuching Waterfront.
Participants pulling the chariot as they parade through the street in the centre of Kuching city in conjunction with the 14th Rath Yathra, which started at 4.30pm on Oct 7, 2023.

“As we move forward in our journey towards becoming a prosperous region, we will start sharing (the wealth) so that every Sarawakian can benefit (from it),” he added.

Furthermore, Dr Sim pointed out that Sarawak’s robust financial performance and its recognition as a high-income region by the World Bank have placed a spotlight on the government’s focus on elevating household incomes.

“This will be done, particularly through education, to ensure that Sarawak children are highly skilled and educated.

“Initially, Sarawak aims to introduce free tertiary education by 2030, but given our sound financial position, we have set our target to offer free higher education by 2026,” he said.

An Indian dance performance delights spectators at Kuching Waterfront in conjunction with the chariots festival on Oct 7, 2023.
Dr Sim (fourth right), together with other distinguished guests cutting a cake to mark the 14th Rath Yathra at Kuching Waterfront on Oct 7, 2023.

With the Post-Covid Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 in place, designed to drive Sarawak towards economic prosperity, inclusivity, and environmental sustainability, Dr Sim highlighted the imperative of building a robust workforce to propel the region forward.

“This initiative is a way of giving back to our people,” he affirmed.

As such, he called upon the people of Sarawak to maintain their unity and harmonious coexistence, emphasising the importance of working together to navigate the path toward a brighter future.

He commended the annual chariot festival, which has been meticulously organised, featuring vibrant processions of colourful chariots parading through the streets, accompanied by captivating performances and delectable vegetarian cuisine.

This event not only showcased the rich culture of the Indian community but also brought an array of colours and immense joy to the city of Kuching.

“All these add to Sarawak’s cultural diversity. Sarawak is such a blessed place.

“This yearly festival infuses tremendous positive energy, a much-needed boost for Sarawak’s pursuit of its developmental aspirations and visions. It serves as a shining example of how our diverse community, encompassing various religions, races, cultures, and backgrounds, can coexist harmoniously, including with our natural surroundings,” he remarked.

Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) Mayor Hilmy Othman, Federation of Chinese Associations of Sarawak president Dato Richard Wee, Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) director Datu Jack Aman Luat, and ISKCON Kuching chairman His Grace Kripa Sindhu Krishna Das @Prabhu were among those present. — DayakDaily