KUCHING: As Malaysians abroad mark the country’s independence and take pride in its achievements, several leaders highlighted the importance of economic and infrastructural development in order for the nation to progress continuously.
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said development programmes needed to be carried out in a peaceful and politically stable environment to benefit the people.
“Uncertainties caused by social and political conflict will be detrimental to everyone.
“Imagine what would have happened if we had to face the Covid-19 pandemic without a federal government or how investors will shun us if it was unstable,” he said at the state-level National Day celebration in Simanggang yesterday.
Abang Johari said the state government was investing in infrastructure development in order to achieve developed status by 2030.
To mitigate the negative impact of Covid-19, he said aid was given out under the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) special economic package worth a total of RM2.55bil.
“This is the biggest financial aid provided by a state in Malaysia. I hope BKSS has brought some relief to traders, families, individuals, small industries and others,” he said.
On the celebration, Abang Johari said it was still meaningful despite it being held on a smaller scale.
“It is our tradition to rotate the celebration each year so that everyone in Sarawak will have the opportunity to appreciate the spirit of National Day,” he said.
The highlight was a Unity Walk with the participants wearing traditional attire to showcase racial unity.
In Kota Kinabalu, Sabah marked the National Day celebration with the new norm at the Sabah International Convention Centre.
The gathering kicked off with the national anthem, followed by the state anthem – Sabah Tanah Airku – played by the Royal Malaysian Police band.
Among those present were Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
The hoisting of the Jalur Gemilang and the Sabah flag was done by navy personnel while the army’s Kpt Mohammad Safwan Lokman led the recital of the pledge by Covid-19 frontliners from 15 agencies.
The celebration ended with a musical performance by the Sabah Credit Corporation choir team, led by Bandy Pijolin, who sang Malaysia Prihatin, Jalur Gemilang and Tanah Airku, followed by a recital of a poem Malaysia Prihatin, written by deputy state secretary Mariam Omar Matusin and delivered by Siti Afizah Abdul Latif.
The one-hour celebration was also marked with a variety of traditional dances by 30 artistes from the state Cultural Board and D’Step Studio.
Shafie said all Malaysians should continue to show their love for the country and remain united.
In Beijing, a small gathering was held at the Malaysian embassy to mark the occasion with about 100 people attending, which began with the singing of the Negaraku.
Malaysians in several Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenyang, also held similar events.
Earlier, a simple pre-Merdeka event was held, led by ambassador Raja Datuk Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, to display their love for the country from afar.
In Bangkok, about 100 Malaysians living and working around the capital city were at the Malaysian embassy to enliven the historic occasion.
The ceremony began with the hoisting of the Jalur Gemilang and all those present, led by Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand Datuk Jojie Samuel, singing the national anthem.
Jojie said although the Covid-19 pandemic was not over yet, it did not dampen the spirit of the Malaysians there to commemorate the significant and special moment.