Prime Minister Najib Razak said the decision of the leaders and people in Sabah and Sarawak to join in the formation of Malaysia was a wise move which had seen significant changes in both states in terms of development.
However, he conceded that the path leading to the formation of Malaysia was not easy because of the many challenges that had cropped up including the claim by the Philippines on Sabah and the ensuing confrontation with Indonesia.
“When the claim made by the Philippines (on Sabah) did not materialise because of our stand to defend the sovereignty of Sabah in Malaysia and when Indonesia launched the confrontation against Malaysia in Sabah, the people from the peninsula and Sarawak had fought in Sabah to defend the state’s sovereignty,” he said at the Malaysia Day 2010 Celebration, at Padang Merdeka, in Kota Kinabalu tonight.
Also present were Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah Ahmadshah Abdullah, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, federal and state cabinet ministers.
Similarly, Najib said the situation before the formation of Malaysia was also not easy, where history had shown that leaders in the two states then had to work hard to convince the people to the extent that the Cobbold Commission was formed.
“The journey leading to the auspicious date of Sept 16 was not easy because the Cobbold Commission had been formed and the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and my father, Tun Abdul Razak had played a role to convince the people of Sabah and Sarawak that their future would be more secure, and their prosperity would become a reality if they became independent in the federation of Malaysia.
“In the efforts to convince the people of Sabah and Sarawak, more than 80 percent had agreed that Sabah and Sarawak became independent in the federation of Malaysia,” he said.
The prime minister said he was also attracted to the statement by a citizen which was published in a local newspaper which he had read by coincidence, which stated that according to the observation by the writer, Aug 31 was independence day, while Sept 16 was a day of hope for a bright future for the beloved nation.
“In terms of the federal government, the continuity to champion the cause of the people of Sabah will be maintained, for example, under the NKRA (National Key Result Area), RM6.1 billion was allocated to Sabah to implement programmes to construct roads, provide electricity, water and houses for the poor excluding the allocation for other programmes and projects.
“All these initiatives were taken so that the people of Sabah will benefit from the independence gained through Malaysia so that Sabah develops, Sarawak develops together with the progress achieved in the peninsula. Insyaallah, in the next few years, this will become a reality, because the people of Sabah had chosen a federal government and a state government that were committed to develop the state of Sabah,” he said.
Najib said he was also proud that Sabah was the best example in practising 1Malaysia.
‘We adopt principle of meritocracy’
The prime minister also gave an assurance to look after the welfare of all strata of society regardless of their ethnic groups.
“As an example, we gave the fairest opportunity to students who obtain 9As in the SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination) to receive the JPA (Public Service Department) scholarship regardless whether they grew up in town or rural areas… we adopt the principle of meritocracy and this is the concept of fairness,” he said.
He was confident that by adopting such an approach, the nation would progress to achieve the status of a developed nation by 2020.
Najib also called on the people, including those in Sabah and Sarawak, to work together to achieve the 1Malaysia concept which emphasised on national unity.
On the Malaysia Day celebration, the prime minister thanked the Sabah government and the Information Communication and Culture Ministry for the close cooperation in ensuring the success of the Malaysia Day gathering which was being held for the first time.