Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has described the spirit of unity and harmony among the people of Sabah and Sarawak as a vibrant example of 1Malaysia.
He said that there were many examples in both states of how Malaysians of different racial, religious and ethnic roots “can come together around the many things that unite us, instead of allowing the few things that divide us to drive us apart.”
“The story of Sabah and Sarawak is the story of 1Malaysia, and has informed and inspired my commitment to this concept.
“They are a testament to the fact that our differences unite this country,” Najib said in his personal statement in conjunction with Malaysia Day today to commemorate the formation of Malaysia in 1963 by Sabah, Sarawak and the then Malaya.
Citing the Gawai celebrations in longhouses in Sarawak as an example, the prime minister said, he could not help but think that the people of Sarawak had already adopted the values of 1Malaysia “long before I explained its various elements.”
He said that this scenario had driven his commitment, and that he believed that it had an important and lasting impact on Malaysia’s development.
“Malaysians of any race or creed need simply look to Sabah and Sarawak to gain an understanding of the incredibly strong and harmonious unity that can be found in accepting and respecting the diversity of our nation,” he said.
On Sabah, he said, what impressed him the most was the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit among the people in their development of a thriving ecotourism industry, turning Sabah into a significant contributor to the nation’s economy.
He acknowledged however that the economic progress in the two states was being hampered by inadequate transportation networks, underfunded schools and insufficient provision of services.
That was why he extended federal government grants to local authorities in Sabah and Sarawak, he said.
Najib also said that it was important for the government to provide the same opportunities to all and improve the lives of Malaysians regardless of race, religion “or the corner of Malaysia that they choose to call home.”
“In the end, whether we live in a remote longhouse or a high-rise in Kuala Lumpur, we are all Malaysians and we are all part of the 1Malaysia that we love,” he said.
In his blog http://www.1malaysia.com.my, Najib also recalls the time when his father Tun Abdul Razak witnessed the historic proclamation of Sabah’s independence in 1963.
Najib said he was 10 at that time “but I remember how proud he was during that momentous occasion. Sabah and Sarawak occupy a special place in my heart because of that history.”
He added that much of the country’s cultural heritage was tied to the icons of life in Sabah and Sarawak.
“Longhouses are as much a mainstay of life there as they are a symbol for our need as Malaysians to learn to live under one roof and to build up our national house together.
“When the sun rises over Malaysia, it shines first on Sabah and Sarawak. Our future as a country depends on our ability to work and live together,” the prime minister said.