Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud (foreground) joining the Malaysia Day celebration at the Miri City Fan Complex yesterday. Pic by Osman Adnan
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud (foreground) joining the Malaysia Day celebration at the Miri City Fan Complex yesterday. Pic by Osman Adnan

MIRI: THERE is no turning back for Sarawak and Sabah from its inclusion in Malaysia and the Federal Government will spare no effort to defend the sovereignty of the two states.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his speech in conjunction with the national-level Malaysia Day celebration here last night, also issued a stern warning against those who tried to threaten the security of the two states.

He said the nation, including Sarawak and Sabah, had come a long way since its establishment 51 years ago, making the issue of the two states seceding from Malaysia irrelevant.

“There is no turning back. Together as the people of Malaysia, regardless if we are Sarawakians or Sabahans, there will be no turning back for us all.

“We will continue to defend the sovereignty of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. And as a responsible prime minister, it is my duty to protect the nation from those who threaten our security and sovereignty.

“We will take action against this unscrupulous lot because we live in a nation that loves harmony,” he said to thunderous applause from the 30,000-strong crowd at the Miri City Fan Complex here.

Joining the celebration were Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, his wife, Toh Puan Sri Ragad Kurdi, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem and Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who represented Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Present were several cabinet ministers, including Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar and Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, as well as Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa.

Also with them were Najib’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and Muhyiddin’s wife, Puan Sri Nooraini Abdul Rahman.

Najib said the massive turnout at the event was proof that the people of Sabah and Sarawak did not regret the decision made by the two states to join the Malaysian Federation.

“I am happy to see the Sabah and Sarawak people continuing to enjoy the 1,001 rahmat (blessings) after the two states achieved their independence by joining Malaysia.”

Najib also announced that from next year, the Aug 31 Merdeka celebration would be commemorated without mentioning the anniversary year. He said this was to put an end to debate on whether the country should celebrate its sovereignty on Aug 31 or Sept 16.

“However, I would like to stress that we will still celebrate Sept 16, as that was when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaysia.

“The Merdeka celebration is for us all and Aug 31 is the date of the nation’s Independence, as announced by (first prime minister) Tunku Abdul Rahman.”

Najib, who is also finance minister, reiterated his pledge made during this year’s Gawai Day celebration that the Federal Government would look into the proposal for Sarawak to earn more benefits from its oil and gas industry.

“We are one big family. I am ready to listen to any suggestion and the Federal Government will always give its full consideration, especially if such requests benefit the state.

“We will improve on whatever is lacking in Sabah and Sarawak. However, it will take some time for Sarawak, as it is a big state.”

Najib also paid tribute to Taib, who was Sarawak’s chief minister for 33 years. He said the state had developed steadily in all aspects under Taib’s stewardship.

Meanwhile, Adenan, in an earlier speech, took to task those who had suggested that Sabah and Sarawak secede. He called the idea “foolish” and unrepresentative of the sentiments of the majority.

“It is unfortunate that there are groups with this kind of ideas, even as we celebrate 51 years of the nation’s establishment. Those who came up with such ideas only represent a minority, as the majority wants (Sarawak) to remain.

“Judging from the turnout for tonight’s celebration, it is clear that we all love our country,” he said, adding that the people of Sarawak had reaped many benefits since it joined Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the spirit of patriotism was on full display among those in the crowd, who flooded every corner of the complex, many carrying Jalur Gemilang and Sarawak state flags. The crowd sang in unison when Sarawak-born singer Bob Yusof of Akademi Fantasia fame performed Di Sini Lahirnya Cinta (Where Love Grows).

The crowd was treated to a video on the formation of the nation and the success it had achieved over the past 51 years. The celebration ended with a musical fireworks display.