The government has been taking care of all the needs of the people “from the cradle to the grave” and it is unnecessary for the country to be labelled a welfare state to make this known, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today.
He said it had become a tradition for the government to focus on target groups which required government assistance and support.
“In Malaysia, it can be said that the government provides much assistance and aid to an individual from the cradle to the grave,” he said at a welfare programme at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seri Nilam, here, Sunday.
Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said; Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen and the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh were also present at the function.
Najib said certain quarters had talked of championing a welfare state in the last general election.
“At first, they played up the hudud (Islamic penal) laws issue and then followed up with the welfare state issue on the pretext of championing welfare,” he said.
Najib said Malaysia was actually a welfare state because the BN government was sensitive to the needs of the people.
“It is not necessary to declare that we are a welfare state. It is not necessary for any label because we are already a welfare state.
“It is not necessary for us to champion a welfare state because Malaysia under the leadership of (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi) is most sensitive to the needs of the people,” he said.
Najib is here to campaign for Wan Ahmad Farid, the former deputy home minister, who is involved in a three-cornered contest in the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election on Saturday with Wakaf Mempelam state assemblyman Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut of PAS and independent candidate Azharudin Mamat alias Adam.
Najib said that to make the efforts to help the target groups more effective, the government had established the Social Safety Net which he added was a leap forward in government policy in assisting the poor and needy.
He said the “Cari-Cari” programme of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, where ministry officers went to the field looking for the poor and needy to provide assistance, was most effective in terms of welfare work.
“With these measures, the objective of the government to eradicate hard-core poverty by 2010 will be achieved, God willing,” he said.
Najib dismissed talk that the government had a hidden agenda or was trying to fish for votes every time it provided aid to the needy.
“Who can say that the government is not sensitive to the needs of the people? When the government announced the Social Safety Net, it was not to know that there would be a by-election in Kuala Terengganu,” he said.
Najib said the people had to understand that the government would provide assistance even if there was no by-election in Kuala Terengganu, as the planned programmes would continue to be implemented.
“Maybe there might not be a big event such as this. True, we kill two birds with one stone. We want to introduce our candidate. You cannot fault us for that.
“The important thing is that we want to help the people; all groups which require aid will get the aid without any exception,” he said.
At the function, Najib also launched a mobile clinic of the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) which provides free medical examination for people who have difficulty in getting access to the reproductive and family health services.