KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — The formation of Malaysia 54 years ago brought about many economic opportunities and fresh employment for the people of Sarawak which they had never enjoyed before, said Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.
He said through Malaysia, Sarawak, as a state with a very high number of ethnic groups, had also undergone an experience to adapt themselves as citizens of Malaysia.
“This is not easily achievable but in 50 years, we have been able to strongly convince that the unity of all the ethnic groups in Sarawak is complete.
“And they have also regarded themselves as Bumiputera who are on par with the Malays in the peninsula," he said in a special interview recently with Prof Datuk Seri Dr Syed Arabi Idid.
Taib said that for the people of various ethnic groups in Sarawak, all Bumiputera privileges had been well-received and this had provided a lot of benefits especially to those from the rural areas.
Prof. Syed Arabi is a former Rector of the International Islamic University Malaysia and is now Professor of Communications at the same university.
The Yang Dipertua Negeri said the ethnic groups of Sarawak who resided upstream of rivers had also been able to change their way of life to that of a modern one.
“They regard themselves as citizens of Malaysia who have ample access to job and educational opportunities besides being able to travel to places outside Sarawak such as the peninsula and Sabah as ordinary citizens,” said Taib, who was Chief Minister of Sarawak for 33 years, before being appointed to the present post about three years ago.
“This shows the wisdom of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman (Malaysia’s first prime minister) who united us in a new nation which has profited all quarters whether in Sarawak, Sabah or Semenanjung (Peninsular Malaysia).
“Nowadays, we see those people who lived in longhouses in the past, are already working in Johor, Kuala Lumpur, in fact, anywhere where there are job opportunities, by using their expertise,” he added.
He regarded this as the most important achievement of national integration which was based on a person using economic opportunities. — Bernama