On this day (16 September) forty-six years ago, Malaysia welcomed Sabah and Sarawak as states and set out on a course toward becoming one of the leading nations in the world. I was only 10 years old when my father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, witnessed the historic proclamation of Sabah’s independence in 1963, 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.
My commitment to 1Malaysia – to the idea that our differences in race and religion are what make our country distinct – is inspired by what I have seen in Sabah and Sarawak. The diversity of our citizens there has formed the basis for many of the most ambitious civil policies that my administration has undertaken, all with the goal of harnessing the power of our different national ethnic and religious groups to form the foundation of our global competitiveness and cultural identity.
The contribution that Sabah and Sarawak make to Malaysia extends beyond lessons in unity and accord. Malaysia is a tourism haven because of the diversity and natural wonders that these two states bring to the world. Much of our country’s cultural heritage is 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. Sabah and Sarawak are showing us the way to civil development and I believe we should return the favor by investing more in their economic development. By the time Sabah and Sarawak announce their 47th anniversary next year, I hope that we can live up to our promise to provide greater economic, education and infrastructure investment there.
For more, see my personal statement on Malaysia Day.