Mahathir Mohamad

  • Malaysia’s government launched a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the cost of a $251 billion national debt.
  • In less than 24 hours, the fund took in $1.76 million.
  • Individuals had begun their own fundraising campaigns, and this appears to be a away for the government to ensure it receives the funds and maintain a level of transparency after the previous government was plagued with financial scandals.

Malaysia has so much national debt the government has announced a crowdfunding campaign to raise money from residents.

In the first 24 hours since the Malaysia Hope Fund, or Tabung Harapan Malaysia, was launched on Wednesday, donations totaled $1.76 million.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry said it is “humbled” by the number of the donations to help pay off the country’s “staggering debt.”

“Truly, Malaysians have taken their patriotism to a greater height, willing to part with their allowances and spare cash to help rebuild this nation we all love.”

A national debt of one trillion ringgit (about $251 billion), which is 80% of the country’s GDP, was announced when the new government took office in May. The handing over of power to the former opposition alliance was a first for Malaysia, where prime minister Najib Razak was ousted after financial scandals plagued his last years in office. 

The financial ministry also praised Shazarina Bakti, who created a fundraising campaign called “Please Help Malaysia!” on GoGetFunding a week ago. It has since raised $3,600.

Shazarina appears to have been the inspiration for the government’s crowdfunding campaign. 

“The rakyat [people] voluntarily want to share their earnings with the government to help ease the burden,” said Minister of Finance Lum Guang Yeng, on Wednesday when he announced the fund. “In order to provide a systematic and transparent platform to ensure all contributions and donations from the people are properly managed and organized, the government has decided to establish a special trust fund.”

The government provided a bank account number to receive donations in the local currency, and said it will publicize the fund’s tally daily.

SEE ALSO: A bullet was sent to the home of Malaysia’s top anti-corruption official investigating a former prime minister — and now he’s back to finish what he started

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