KUCHING, June 7 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said tonight that the people of Malaysia deserve better as the country has the resources and potential to undertake reforms to ensure good governance.
He said this was not for self-interest but for the sake of the people.
“That is why I am proud to work with Abang Jo, elevating not only Sarawak, but also Malaysia,” he said during the state Gawai Dayak celebrations here, referring to Sarawak’s Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg.
The prime minister also stressed that diversity in the country should be a source of strength, and not a source of disunity.
“The unity government chooses diversity to build and fortify the country,” he added.
He said Malaysians should not see this as a straightforward process because it was decided by the nation’s forefathers with the confidence that Malaysia was formed with Sarawak and Sabah as a sovereign and independent country.
Anwar said there are elements who want to disunite the country, but the situation is under control in Sarawak where there is racial and religious harmony.
“I must salute the premier and the state leadership for this,” he added.
“That is why I said when I was here recently that the time has come for the people in the peninsula, who are raising religious and racial issues, to learn from Sarawak’s experience and strength,” he said.
He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had recently expressed his concern about some in the peninsula who had exploited racial and religious issues to incite hatred among the people.
Anwar said he is grateful to Abang Johari and the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government for what they have done to bring about racial unity and harmony in Sarawak, which should be a source of strength for the rest of the country.
“What is so special about Sarawak?” he asked.
He said Sarawak, in the early years of Malaysia, was poor, but now, had forged ahead of other states with what it had achieved in a number of fields, including green technology.
He said he had mentioned this to federal officials in his meetings with them.
“I am not saying this out of envy, but this is a fact. With the commitment of Sarawak in several areas, it is far ahead other states in Malaysia,” he said.
Anwar said he does not want to over-praise “my friend Abang Jo” but wished to categorically state that unity and harmony was fully utilised to develop the state.
Anwar also announced a RM10 million allocation for the survey work of the native customary rights (NCR) land of the Dayak community.
He also said the allocation for houses of worship, such as churches and temples, in Peninsular Malaysia will also be extended to Sarawak.