Poverty is no hindrance if there is passion and a strong desire for success, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday.

He said courage, patience, working hard always and being ambitious were the key drivers for success, and all these went beyond one’s material wealth.

“It’s not whether you are poor in material, but what is most important is you are rich in your character, rich in your spirits, rich in your endeavour, your passion and in your dream.

“These are more important than material facilities, financial success. If we have the spirit of courage and determination … it is fundamental to success,” he said when launching the television programme, 1Malaysia Ikon, here.

Najib said Malaysia was a blessed country because of the many opportunities created by the government for the people of diverse backgrounds to change their lives for the better.

The prime minister said the opportunities would be meaningless if the people did not take advantage of them and use them as best as they could.

“Malaysia is a land of opportunities. We create the opportunities without regard to socio-economic background, so long as the people work hard and use their brains to succeed.

“On the other hand, if there are opportunities but there is no spirit, then the opportunities will be wasted,” he said.

On the 1Malaysia Ikon TV programme, Najib said all the 13 icons were exemplary of how an individual from a poor family achieved success through hard work.

“The spirit of perseverance and determination is so fundamental to our successful icons, regardless of whether they had to share a bed in their younger days, they contracted malaria at the age of five years or they were beaten by their fathers.

“Whatever the obstacle, they were able to overcome it because they never gave up. They followed their dreams and never once gave up,” he said.

Najib expressed his commitment to continue supporting the 1Malaysia Ikon programme and said he hoped that more personalities could be portrayed in the future.

“I believe this programme contributes a great deal to our efforts to showcase the younger generation so that they can achieve success,” he said.

The 13 icons showcased in the programme comprise Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (Malaysia’s special envoy for infrastructure to India and South Asia); Datuk R. Doraisingam Pillai (Lotus Group chief executive officer); Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (former International Trade and Industry Minister); Tan Sri Sharil Samsuddin (Sapura Group president and chief executive officer); Tan Sri Vincent Tan (Berjaya Corporation chairman and chief executive officer).

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (Air Asia Bhd (AirAsia) Group chief executive officer); Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department); Tun Daim Zainuddin (former Finance Minister); Datuk Jimmy Choo (renowned shoe designer); Datuk Marina Chin (former national athlete); Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (International Trade and Industry Minister); Datuk Ahmad Kemin (Mutiara Motors Group executive chairman) and Datuk Yusof Haslam (film personality).

The 13-episode documentary programme will be broadcast over TV1 of Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) from Aug 22 to Sept 16 from 7 pm to 8 pm.