KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak has declared next year as the Year of the Volunteer, announcing a host of measures, including an RM100 million fund, to support youth volunteers.
The prime minister said "a great wave" of youthful vigor was about to sweep the nation, as he introduced the 1Malaysia For Youth (1M4U) concept to celebrate young people and the spirit of volunteerism.
"I am for you (1M4U), we are for you... the youth of today and the youth of tomorrow," he said at the launch of the 1M4U programme at the Esplanade KLCC park today.
Under the new concept, an 1M4U Board of Trustees, to be chaired by Najib himself, will be set up to oversee the 1M4U programmes and initiatives.
The initiatives, he said, included the Dana Sukarelawan 1Malaysia (Dre1m), an RM100 million fund which will provide financial grants in the form of "seed money" to give young volunteers a head start in their volunteerism efforts.
"You can do it your own way, for your own causes, according to your own likes and interests, whichever way you think is best."
"Whether it's setting up tuition classes for Orang Asli children, cleaning up the beach, or repainting your neighbourhood's residential flats - we will assist you," he told the 50,000-strong crowd of young people.
He said a taskforce will be appointed to decide the appropriate amount to be given to any particular volunteer youth group or individual, as long as they were not part of any established association or uniformed group.
He also encouraged interested groups to apply for the grant online. Najib said all applications would be processed online and for information and procedures on how to apply for the fund, information can obtained from the www.1m4youth.com.my website.
"We need to support activities and programmes carried out by youths voluntarily through reasonable financial support and not provide funds for lavish spending," he said.
Najib also announced plans to set up an 1M4U radio station, to disseminate information and to provide programmes catered for young generation listeners and at the same time be a platform to unearth and expose talent and ideas of youths.
"The voice of youth is the voice of the country's future."
Najib, who earlier visited booths set up by various volunteer and youth groups groups, said he was honoured and humbled by the variety of causes championed by those involved in the 1M4U programme.
"I have met those who care for the environment, those who have set up education programmes, and those who are joining the fight against cancer."
"This afternoon, we have seen a great wave rise up, made up of both the young and the young-at-heart who have gathered here to determine a better future for our country."
"It's a wave that's not about disrupting society or joining street demonstrations, but about helping to build a nation."
He said the 1M4U concept was themed "from youth, to youth, for youth" -an all encompassing platform to help young people contribute their time, skills and hard work to make the country a better place.
"And the government is here to help... We will do our best to guarantee a future for the young that is filled with the light of hope, as we lay down the foundation for our country's success together."
The future is determined by you (youths). If the youths wished to defend the community, the welfare of the community will be defended. If the government's efforts and transformation programmes are supported, the country will progress," he said.
Over 30 organisations, including 15 government ministries, took part in yesterday's 1M4U programme to promote youth volunteerism.
The Prime Minister also launched the composition of the 1M4U song by the Lim Kok Wing University and later distributed 100,000 helmets to youths from throughout the country.
Also present at the launch was Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Youth and Sports Ministers Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, and Information Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim.
Earlier, the Prime Minister met with youths during a walkabout around the KLCC Esplanade.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak delivering his speech at the launching of "(im4u) 1Malaysia For Youth" attended by about fifty thousand youths nationwide at the KLCC Esplanade. NSTP pix by Khairull Azry Bidin.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak greets youths during his 1Malaysia for Youth walkabout at the KLCC Esplanade. -- NSTP/Aizuddin Saad
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak signs helmets for youths during his 1Malaysia for Youth walkabout at the KLCC esplanade. NSTP pix by Aizuddin Saad
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tries on a 1Malaysia For Youth (1M4U) helmet during his walkabout at KLCC Esplanade. The helmets are to be distributed free to the youths. Also present at the walkabout is Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammudin Tun Hussein (left). -- Bernama photo
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak shows his painted palms for a comemorative palm print during his 1Malaysia For Youth walkabout at the KLCC esplanade in Kuala Lumpur. -- Bernama photo
Datuk Seri Najib Razak makes palm prints during his 1Malaysia for Youth walkabout at KLCC esplanade in Kuala Lumpur today.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak together with Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein (second from right), Sports and Youth Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek (third from right), Deputy Sports and Youth Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim (second from left) and Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ali Hamsa (left) resting after the 1Malaysia For Youth walkabout at the KLCC Esplanade in Kuala Lumpur today. -- Bernama photo