By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Feb 14: Sarawak government will continue to improve services of the Kenyalang Gold Card (KGC) scheme, especially to enable senior citizens from rural and remote areas enjoy similar benefits.
Welfare, Community Well being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah noted that the KGC scheme, now in its interim period, has limited benefits for the rural elderly population.
She said the state is looking into ways to enable the rural senior citizens reap the benefits, discounts, rebates including priority services offered by private and commercial establishments under the scheme.
“So far, no establishments from the rural areas have come forward to join as strategic partners, unlike big towns and cities, where there are critical mass.
“This is the area we are looking into and attune to the needs of the senior citizen in rural areas,” she told reporters after receiving over 3,300 application forms for KGC from SUPP Pending and Batu Kawah branches.
Fatimah siad senior citizens from the rural areas would benefit from the Death Compassionate Assistance of RM3,000, which was intended for funeral expenses.
“If patients from rural areas come down to Kuching (the city) for treatment, where hospitals are more equipped and with specialists, but in the event that they passed away, this is where money is needed especially for logistics to bring their body back to the village or longhouse.
“Today, logistic costs from Kuching to Dalat is about RM2,000. This is where this assistance will benefit them in such circumstances,” explained the Dalat assemblywoman.
Fatimah acknowledged the need to have more commercial establishments especially supermarkets, as well as other services and products meant for senior citizens, to come on board as strategic partners to stretch the benefits for senior citizens.
“In this interim period before the card is launched, we know that there are many aspects that we did think of before but since the introduction, we have received many feedback, suggestions, opinions and ideas that will help us improve.
“We are open to public feedback because we did not think of everything until we get into the real scenario and being pointed out,” she said.
The minister said that as in Feb 13, a total of 87,953 Sarawakian senior citizens have signed up for the gold card since applications opened in January.
“Kuching has the highest applications with 23,366 submitted out of 103,600 estimated senior citizen population, followed by Sibu (12,028), Miri (8,887) and Betong (6,726),” she continued.
The KGC scheme will be launched by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the “Sarawak Women X-Symposium: Global Innovative Entrepreneurship” at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on March 7.
“We are working very hard to get the data of applicants into the system and produce the KGC, which would be presented to the recipients by that time (launching),” she said.
Welfare Department Social Support Service division head Irine Andew Ganggang and Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Women’s chief Kho Teck Wan were present. — DayakDaily