PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Tabung Harapan Malaysia (THM) fund - otherwise called the Hope Fund - to contribute to settling the national debt has collected RM7 million (S$2.35 million) in 24 hours, said Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Asked whether the fund would affect confidence in the economy of the country, he told a press conference on Thursday (May 31) that "if people want to show their patriotism by donating, we welcome it".
"It's up to people how much they want to donate, it can be big or small," he said.
He added that it's one way for Malaysians to show they are sehati, sejiwa, seraga (one heart, one spirit, one body) with the country.
The THM fund was set up after numerous Malaysians expressed a desire to donate to help the country alleviate its national debt, which Lim had earlier said was now more than RM1 trillion.
Some private citizens had started pledges and one even set up a crowdfunding drive.
Lim compared THM to what had happened in South Korea in the wake of the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.
This was when Koreans donated their gold items, which the Korean government then melted and sold to settle its own debts.
In discussing the national debt of RM1 trillion, Lim said: "If a baby is born today in Malaysia, he will already be RM33,000 in debt."