Al-Sultan Abdullah is welcomed by well-wishers upon his arrival for the dinner. – Penerangan photo

KUCHING (Sept 13): Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has called on the federal and Sarawak governments to strengthen efforts to improve infrastructure in the state’s rural areas.

His Majesty said throughout his journey in Sarawak during the ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ tour, he observed that Sarawakians in the interiors were still in need of basic amenities.

“I got to hear some of the grievances from the people as well as received letters from them during my visit to various places that I visited, and they were like those of Pahang.

“One of the areas was Kampung Telagus (in Serian) which is lacking water supply facilities,” His Majesty said at the closing ceremony of ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ and dinner hosted by the Sarawak government here last night.

Al-Sultan Abdullah said Sarawak’s development is a shared responsibility between the state and federal governments, which must play a more effective role in meeting the needs of the people.

“I would like to advise all the elected representatives to go and engage with the people, go and meet the people, and go and listen to the people on what they need,” His Majesty said.

Al-Sultan Abdullah carries a child dressed in a traditional costume during the event. From left are Abang Johari, Fadillah (behind the Premier), Asfia, and Awang Tengah. – Penerangan photo

He also gave his assurance that he would read all the letters or petitions handed to him during the tour.

“We will study and present them to the federal government as soon as possible. I will try my very best,” he said.

Al-Sultan Abdullah said the tour served as an opportunity to build a new “bridge of friendship”.

“This ‘bridge’ has no river below it. It is a bridge of friendship and my family and I are representing the Malay Rulers and people of Peninsular Malaysia in extending our hands so we can be one big family in Malaysia.

“We must not have a barrier between us to prevent us from having a closer bond.

“We must strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between the regions of Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia because as a country, we need to support one another,” said His Majesty.

In his speech, Al-Sultan Abdullah also reminisced on fond memories during the tour, particularly his first visit to a longhouse where he admired how the residents there live in a harmonious, mutual sharing concept.

“I visited the Raymond Plen longhouse (in Sebauh, Bintulu) and the people there were like a big family.

“It was really unique and the family spirit at the longhouse was very strong,” said His Majesty.

He said the spirit of ‘Segulai Sejalai’ (moving forward together) ought to be emulated across the country.

“Regardless of race and religious backgrounds, we can form a harmonious and spirit of solidarity if we are ready to put aside our differences.”

Al-Sultan Abdullah said during the tour, he had personally driven 2,192km from Tawau, Sabah on Sept 3 up to Kuching last night, clocking in a total of 85 hours.

“My objective to come on this tour is to get to know Sabah and Sarawak because I would like to be closer with the people and learn about their livelihoods, while also witnessing for myself the development of both states.

“Throughout my journey, there were certain areas along the Pan Borneo Highway where it felt as though we were in Dubai, but then some areas also felt like we were on a rollercoaster.

“I was informed that the highway is expected to be fully completed by 2026. I hope that everything goes well and God-willing when it is completed, I will be back,” His Majesty said.

He also took the opportunity to bid farewell to Sarawak and Sabah in his speech, stating that ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ tour will be his last visit to the East Malaysian states as Yang di-Pertuan Agong because his term expires on Jan 30 next year.

His Majesty said he was touched by the warm welcome and sincerity of the people towards him and his family, as well as his entourage and that this was beyond his expectations.

“I was informed by the acting Yang di-Pertua Negeri that this is unprecedented and that it has never happened before in Sarawak where almost every single one of the people waited along the highway for me and my entourage.

“This is really historic for me and my family and will forever be part of our fond memories from here,” said His Majesty.

He added throughout these five years, Sarawak has always welcomed him and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah with open arms.

“On this meaningful night, I would like say farewell and thank you to the people for the sweet memories that you have given me.

“I pray that the people of East Malaysia will continue to be watched over by Allah and they will live in peace and harmony as the state continues to achieve great success,” said His Majesty.

The dinner was also attended by the Regent of Pahang Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Acting Governor Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, and Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

Al-Sultan Abdullah and his entourage will continue his journey to Telok Melano today to complete the ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ tour, before returning to Kuching and heading back to Kuala Lumpur.

Al-Sultan Abdullah thanks a boy for a bouquet of flowers. From left are Tengku Hassanal, Asfia, and his wife Puan Sri Datin Amar Fatimah Mohamad Iskandar. – Penerangan photo