Wednesday, May 19

Golden card for golden years

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Ministry mulls proposal for card to entitle senior citizens to special benefits in preparation for projected rise in elderly population

Fatimah (seated, centre) in a photo call with council members after the meeting. Seated with her are Rosey (on Fatimah’s right), Jamilah (fourth left) and Noriah (third right).

KUCHING: The Ministry of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development is proposing for senior citizens in the state to be issued a Golden Card that will entitle holders to various benefits.

Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said with 16 per cent of Sarawak’s population – roughly 526,000 – projected to be aged 65 and above by 2030, it is important that the state come up with a plan to assist them on matters pertaining to medical treatment and insurance, among others.

“We have a suggestion to give a Golden Card as identification for Sarawak. If we can do this, we will be the first (state) to come up with the special card. This is in preparation for the state to face an aged
society in the future,” she told a press conference after attending a Sarawak Women and Family Council meeting here yesterday.

Fatimah said among the benefits suggested are that card holders will be entitled to discounts on matters such as treatment in hospitals or at any clinic, and also provide them with insurance coverage.

She said the ministry is also studying suggestions to expand home-help services coverage and to work with local authorities to make new buildings more elderly-friendly or wheelchair-friendly.

“Home-help services include (people) talking to old folks to dispel loneliness, tidying up their home, getting groceries, giving massages and even baths.

“To be able to reach out to more old folks, more volunteers need to be trained,” she said.

The suggestions, she said, would need to be fine-tuned before being presented to the state cabinet for approval.

She also said the Sarawak Women and Family Council has agreed for a research to be done by Swinburne University on Sarawak’s level of preparedness in facing an ageing society.

Meanwhile, Fatimah disclosed that three gazetted domestic violence shelters – Pusat Pemulihan Samarahan, Rumah Kanak Kanak Ajibah Abol in Sri Aman, and Sekolah Tunas Bakti Perempuan in Miri – are set to be upgraded owing to the rise in the number of victims of such cases.

According to her, statistics from the Royal Malaysia Police showed that more domestic violence cases were reported in rural areas, many of which were triggered by drug abuse.

“As of June this year, there are 262 cases compared to 260 cases over the same period last year. The highest (number of cases) was recorded in Miri, followed by Kuching and Sibu.

“During the meeting, we also discussed on ensuring the safety of the victims. Once a report is made, we need to place them in a shelter, and an interim protection order is in place to ensure the perpetrator cannot come near the victim.”

On a separate matter, Fatimah said the upcoming Sarawak Women’s Day 2019 celebration will be held on Sept 28 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg as guest of honour.

This year’s celebration is themed ‘Women in Safety and Security’, with a coffee-table book on personalities in safety and security set to be launched.

Among those present at the meeting were Assistant Minister of Women, Family and Childhood Development Rosey Yunus, Women and Family Department Sarawak director Noriah Ahmad, and Tanjong Datu assemblywoman Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu.