Fatimah (fourth left, first row) with (from left, first row) State Welfare Department (JKMS) director Noriah Ahmad; her ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Saadiah Abdul Samat; Yunus; Francis; Ting; JKMS acting director Joni Nuruddin and KGC strategic partners. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: As of Monday (February 10), 74,613 applications for the Kenyalang Gold Card (KGC) had been received statewide.

“Kuching is top of the list in terms of number of applications received at 19,515,” revealed Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development (KWKPK) Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

“This is about 19% of the estimated number of senior citizens aged 60 and above in Kuching area,” she said during her speech at the signing ceremony of a KGC memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Waterfront Hotel here yesterday.

Sibu came in second with 10,476 applications and Miri was third with 7,031 applications, respectively 24 percent and 15 percent of the estimated number of their senior citizens.

Fatimah said statistics were being monitored to gauge demand for the card.

Fatimah (fourth left, first row) with (from left, first row) State Welfare Department (JKMS) director Noriah Ahmad; her ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Saadiah Abdul Samat; Yunus; Francis; Ting; JKMS acting director Joni Nuruddin and KGC strategic partners. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

She pointed out that the high number of applications was commendable as this was still an interim period.

The card would be officially launched on March 7 by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“During this interim period, we can improve many things so that when it is officially launched, the teething problems would have been solved,” said Fatimah.

According to her, thus far, there were 46 companies registered as KGC strategic partners.

“Of these, 22 are in Kuching, 13 are in Miri, and 11 are in Limbang.”

She said that based on feedback from applicants, many requested rebates from telecommunication and flight companies.

She added that they had not anticipated that KGC would become the most popular of all welfare-related initiatives implemented by the state government.

Citing the Department of Statistics, she said that by 2030, 16 percent of Sarawak’s population would be senior citizens aged 60 and above –- equivalent to 526,000 individuals.

“This year, the population of senior citizens is projected to be 334,500 while last year it was 315,000,” she said.

Therefore, KGC was introduced to enhance their wellbeing and welfare.

“KGC is for those 60 years old and older regardless of races, religions, localities and economic status. As long as they fulfil the set criteria such as being Sarawakians,” she said.

She said that via KGC, senior citizens could enjoy benefits such as discounts and rebates offered by various strategic partners including providers of health and medical, and public transport services, and other necessities.

“This initiative gives opportunities to strategic partners to give back to the community.

“We hope that more strategic partners will contribute. Sarawak will be a model caring state in the whole of Malaysia,” she said.

During the ceremony, Fatimah also witnessed the signing of MoUs between her ministry and several strategic partners offering discounts and rebates to KGC holders.

Also present at the ceremony were Women, Family and Childhood Development Assistant Minister Rosey Yunus, Community Wellbeing Assistant Minister Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, Tourism, Arts and Culture Assistant Minister Datuk Sebastian Ting, MPs and state assembly members.