Thursday, January 26, 2012
The Chief Minister of Sabah and the state cabinet members, wishing everybody a joyous and prosperous Chinese New Year 2012.
On behalf of my wife Faridah Haji Tussin, our family and the Sabah State Government, I wish to extend Chinese New Year greetings to the Chinese community in Sabah, and the rest of Malaysia. As we welcome the Lunar New Year, we are reminded of the goodwill and unity that is embedded in Malaysia. Our willingness and ability to work as one despite being so diverse has continued to become Malaysia’s pillar of progress and growth.
As we welcome the Year of the Dragon, I am pleased that we are able to celebrate Chinese New Year in a nation that continues to remain peaceful. As a melting pot of cultures and traditions, Malaysians are united and celebrate all festivities by extending greetings and by visiting one another at open houses. This is the true spirit of 1Malaysia, and I am pleased to note that this open house tradition is thriving despite us moving towards becoming a developed nation. By remaining true to our cultures and traditions, Malaysians will be balanced in their approach to progress and growth, which can threaten to erode age old customs and practices in the quest for modernity.
As we move into the New Year, we must take stock of our achievements in the past year, and evaluate how we can improve on challenges that we were faced with. This holds true for personal growth and also for progress of the various government, private and non-government establishments. On a larger scale, let us strive towards working together in bringing stronger growth for Sabah.
We are continuing to see progress in several sectors of the economy – notably oil and gas, palm oil and tourism. For us to succeed in these and other sectors of the economy, we must have the ability to be innovative and to think out of the box in driving investments. This includes creating a knowledgeable and skilled work force. I am pleased to note that tertiary education is expanding in Sabah via specialized institutes of higher education that are now spread out in different parts of the State. These include the Sandakan Education Hub and the Kimanis Petroleum Training Centre. I am confident that more skills centres will be introduced in the near future, offering locals quality education at their doorstep. I wish to encourage Malaysians in Sabah to take up opportunities at these institutes of higher education.
The Barisan Nasional Government is one that cares for Malaysians regardless of background. One fine example is the disbursement of a one-off payment of RM500 for households that earn RM3,000 and below through the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M). It is however unfortunate that some quarters choose to keep on criticizing the Government for all of its efforts, and I wish to urge Malaysians in Sabah to disregard allegations that the Government is insincere in helping the rakyat. The Government will remain committed in its plans to assist Malaysians through a number of initiatives.
I am also pleased to share that Federal Government led initiatives such as the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) are well on track and are showing the desired results. These programmes that encompass diverse sectors of the economy, and in the process strengthening the delivery system, are propelling our economy to compete globally. The Sabah State Government is committed to meeting aspirations of these initiatives, and I wish to call on Malaysians in Sabah to support these innovative programmes.
As we progress into the Tenth Malaysia Plan and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), the Government will continue to plan and implement timely projects with the overall aim of uplifting standards of living. Emphasis on vital infrastructure, such as roads and schools, are always on the agenda as we strive to bridge regional imbalances within Sabah. We are also always open to listening to issues raised by the business and trade community in Sabah, and to work with them in finding solutions, some of which require consultations with the Federal Government. Let me assure you that the State Government is one that listens.
I would like to take this opportunity to reassure the Chinese community in Sabah of our continuous support towards the growth of Chinese schools, temples and cultural activities. The Federal Government had in the Budget for 2012 announced an allocation of RM100 million for Chinese schools, proving that the Government is fair to all communities. On its part, the Sabah State Government will continue to disburse financial aid for Chinese schools and temples, the way we have done for many years now. We also support Chinese non-governmental organisations such as the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) and the Sabah United Chinese Chambers of Commerce (SUCCC) for the advancement of activities and programmes that further strengthen Chinese culture in our state.
During this festive season, let us remember the less fortunate. I am pleased corporate organisations and other groups have shared festive cheer by visiting and assisting those in need. I also wish to extend my appreciation to security forces who work hard during festive seasons to make sure that our state and nation remains safe. We remain indebted to then for the sacrifices that they make.
Let us all remain united and continue to live in harmony as we celebrate Chinese New Year. I hope that the New Year brings more prosperity and peace to the nation. Gong Xi Fa Chai.