Two people become first RM60 Old Age recipients
Published on: Monday, October 29, 1979

DAILY EXPRESS (Monday, October 29, 1979) - KOTA KINABALU, Sun: The Government’s Old Age Assistance Scheme came into being yesterday when about 100 elderly people collected their first $60.00 cash aid from Minister of Social Welfare, Toh Puan Rahimah at a simple ceremony at the Sembulan Community Centre near here. 

Other benefactors throughout the State will also receive the first of their monthly pension soon. 

In her speech before the official launching, Toh Puan Rahimah said that the scheme was not an experimental one, and it was here to stay. She said that in two months since the Scheme was first announced, it had already become a reality and in December the State Government will pass a bill to put this Assistance Scheme on a permanent statutory footing. 

Toh Puan Rahimah said that though the initial payout is $60.00 the amount may vary from time to time “depending on the circumstances.” 

“For those of us who have a regular income $60 may not be a big sum of money. One can spend it all with friends in a coffee shop in less than an hour. But in terms of the State budget it means an additional expenditure of $20 million per year. 

“This is a large sum of money to spend on social welfare for a developing economy. But the Berjaya Government strongly feels that this money ought to be spent for the benefit of the old people in the State who really need such assistance,” Toh Puan Rahimah said. 

“This is a bold scheme which has been in the minds of Berjaya leaders, particularly Datuk Harris himself, for some time. 

“It was not until last July that he announced it after having satisfied himself that the State’s economy is strong enough to absorb the cost of such a scheme,” she added. 

She said that putting this bold plan into operation indicates that the State Government has enough confidence in its ability to put aside the amount required every year for this scheme. 

“The confidence is well justified because it is based on the Government’s record of performance In the last three years and on its projection of the State’s economy in the foreseeable future. Like many other things this scheme is inspired by the Berjaya Government’s belief that given the rich natural resources which the State is fortunate enough to have and the extent and scope of economic activities which are taking place today, as well as the expected tempo of development in the future, the State’s economy will grow from strength to strength and the momentum of growth which has been generated in the last three years or so will guarantee a bright future for all of us. 

“This optimism, of course, also rests on the Federal Government’s continued assistance and support which the State has been most fortunate to enjoy. 

“Given the dedication and zeal with which we pursue our al development efforts I am confident that the Federal Government will continue to have faith  in the present State Government’s determination and ability to serve the people and country. 

“The Scheme is, of course, also inspired by the Federal Government’s New Economic Policy, which is aimed at eradicating poverty in our country. While we in the State Government believe that, ultimately, poverty can only be eradicated by the efforts of the people themselves, it nevertheless is acutely aware that there are those who have been left behind by time and opportunities and are no longer able to take advantage of the assistance and incentives which the State Government has provided for the economic well-being of the people. 

“These were the people who spent the prime of their lives in an environment which offered few jobs openings or economic opportunities, and virtually no Government assistance of any sort.

“If they had the same opportunities as are offered by the numerous Government as well as semi-Government agencies which exist today, they would probably have made a better success of their lives than they have and they would probably require no assistance today,” she said. 

The Minister also referred to the achievements of the State Government under Parti Berjaya. She said the Old Age Assistance Scheme would have been quite unthinkable in April, 1976 when all that was left in the State’s reserve was $6 million.  She pointed out that in the 41 months from January 1973 to May 1976 the previous State Government received a total revenue of $875.6 million. 

“In the 36 months from June 1976 to May 1979, the Berjaya Government has received a total revenue of $2,140.7 million, an increase of $1,265.1 million or 144.5 per cent. “The revenue the Berjaya Government received in one year is almost equal to the previous Government’s efforts over 3 1/2 years,” Toh Puan Rahimah said. 

She explained that the present Government’s policy is to provide assistance for every category of people in the State to enable them to help themselves to a better life. 

“The farmers are assisted through the Agriculture Department, through KPD, through Sabah Credit Corporation, through the subsidy scheme of the Sabah Padi Board, through the Rubber Fund Board, through Sama’s marketing services, and so on. 

“The fishermen are assisted through the Fisheries Department, through Ko-Nelayan and various cooperatives. For those who wish to go into trade and industry they can obtain assistance from Sedco, from Yunit Bumiputra, from Sabah Credit Corporation and the various financial houses in the State. 

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