KOTA KINABALU: Penny Wong says her visit to Sabah is an act of homecoming, hope and respect.
The Sabah-born Australian Foreign Affairs Minister said coming back is akin to “balik kampung” (returning home), and a respect for the nation of her birth and a nation to which she belongs.
“Coming here is more than that, too. It is a story that can strengthen the relations between our nations,” she said in her speech during a reception with friends, family and local leaders here Wednesday (June 29).
Wong mentions how being back is a sign of respect to the place and people, as well as her family, that enabled her to be who she is today, and to stand as “menteri luar negara (Foreign Affairs Minister)".
She also mentioned her grandmother whom she fondly calls “poh-poh”, whose courage and strength, as well as her father, whose determination enabled her to enjoy many opportunities.
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She said being in Kota Kinabalu is also an act of affection for this place, its people and its rhythms.
“It is the Sabahan childhood, Mamutik Island, Mount Kinabalu, fresh fish and prawns for lunch and poh-poh’s mushroom chicken. These memories stay in my heart,” Wong said.
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She says Australia is a place where many share their experience of migration.
“When you walk down the streets in an Australian city, you see half of us here today,” she said.
“This is modern Australia, this is today’s Australia, it is an Australia that understands that our prosperity, our security and our future is shared with yours,” Wong concluded.
Meanwhile, local leaders like Sabah Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, State Community Development and People’s Well-being minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya and Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin were present during the event.