The Prime Minister said the scheme, which was mentioned in Budget 2020, would target specific groups, especially local graduates and women, with special emphasis on youth.
He warned that as the country progressed, the young must be equipped with the right skills, otherwise there would be discontent and Malaysia could go the way of socio-economic turmoil in Hong Kong or Chile.
“The allocation of RM6.5bil for Malaysia@Work will create jobs for Malaysians over the next five years.
“The programme has many long-term multiplier effects that go beyond the five years – it creates jobs, it creates learning opportunities, it creates relationships that require collaboration,” he said.
Dr Mahathir added that the programme would be facilitated by the Finance Ministry through the Employees Provident Fund and assisted by the ministries of Education, Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Community Development, Home and Human Resources.
“I want to emphasise that not only do I require the mentioned ministries to be individually accountable for the various ‘At Work’ pillars, I expect the rest of the Cabinet to step up, pool their resources and give all support available to ensure the programme’s success.
“If we do this well, Malaysia@Work will be the answer to driving sustainable progress and inclusive social well-being for the entire country,” he said in his speech while officiating the International Social Well-being Conference 2019, convened by EPF, here yesterday.
The Prime Minister said that 3D (dirty, dangerous, difficult) jobs need not be that and could be rebranded as “dignified, dynamic, desirable” to attract Malaysians.
“We want our 3D workers to know that they work in ‘dignified, dynamic, desirable’ jobs. As Malaysia aspires towards developed nation status, we must look towards the best models of countries that have made it.
“I truly admire the citizens of countries like Japan and South Korea who have so much pride in the everyday work that they do. No job is too lowly and so they depend little on foreign labour,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said that while progress must be made, it should not only benefit a few and sideline the rest.
He gave the examples of technology disruption and climate change as something countries must be aware of.
“Today’s technology is disrupting so many industries, with every corporation needing to change their old ways or risk being phased out, ” he said while urging young Malaysians to “upskill”.
“When a big proportion of our youth is unemployed, we lose their potential contribution to the country, waste the investment we have made in their education, and create a fertile ground for discontent and instability. We can’t let that happen.
“All we need to do is to look towards places like Hong Kong, Beirut and Santiago to see how economically frustrated youth can bring about conflict and unrest, worsening already precarious and unstable economic conditions,” he said.
The Prime Minister also praised Malaysia’s female workforce for “holding up half the sky”.
“At every juncture of our history, women, who are primary caretakers of the family unit, have played an integral role in raising future Malaysians with strong values. More so in times of economic change,” said Dr Mahathir.
Meanwhile, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim tweeted a photo of his meeting with Dr Mahathir at the Perdana Leadership Foundation yesterday following days of political tension.
The two met for 30 minutes and Anwar posted a picture of them looking cordial.
In a series of tweets, Anwar said Dr Mahathir and his own position on the leadership transition matter had not changed from the agreed arrangement by Pakatan Harapan and as promised by Dr Mahathir.
“In the meeting I requested for the Prime Minister to issue statements relating to a few issues. I informed him that the issue on transition of power must be done peacefully and orderly in a reasonable period and with mutual agreement,” he said.
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