Al-Sultan Abdullah (third left) takes a look at a photograph of his family while accompanied by Abang Johari (second right), Fadillah (second left), Asfia (third right), Wan Junaidi (left) and Abu Bakar (right). – Penerangan Photo

KUCHING (Sept 13): The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s efforts to reach out to the people during ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ tour has further strengthened the spirit of unity amongst the people particularly those in Sarawak and Sabah, said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Premier said it is evident that His Majesty’s presence together with Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah over the past 11 days in the two East Malaysian states have shown that the Constitutional Monarchy has a unique role as the umbrella of unity, prosperity and stability of the country.

“Sarawak respects the institution of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong even though this state does not practise the sultanate system like the states in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said at the closing ceremony of ’Kembara Kenali Borneo’ tour and dinner which was hosted by the Sarawak government to welcome Their Majesties here last night.

Abang Johari said Their Majesties’ successful journey across the island of Borneo should set as an example that unity amongst the people should not be limited by differences in religion, race or culture.

“This is evident when both Their Majesties showed that they were not shy to get involved in various cultural activities organised by the people to celebrate their arrival.

“The people of Sarawak feel happy because they know they have a partner in His Majesty who is so willing to be closer to the people.

“This can be seen from their grand gesture in welcoming His Majesties along the way during the tour, which was extraordinary,” he said.

On another matter, Abang Johari said that in addition to the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway by the federal government, the Sarawak government is also constructing a 896km coastal highway at a cost of RM5.42 billion.

He said the highway involves the construction of 10 bridges across large rivers such as the 4.8 km long Batang Lupar bridge, which will be the longest bridge across rivers in the country when it is completed.

In addition, he said the state government is also constructing the Second Trunk Road from Samarahan towards the Northern Sarawak through Sebuyau and Lingga areas at a cost of RM5.58 billion.

He said this will shorten the travel time from Kuching to Sibu which currently takes about five to six hours to only two-and-a-half hours.

“All the construction costs of the coastal highway and Second Trunk Road amounting to RM11 billion is financed by the Sarawak government.

“This large-scale infrastructure provision programme, which is expected to be completed in 2026, aims to upgrade the road communication system in the state as a catalyst for greater economic growth with the aim of making Sarawak a high-income developed state by 2030,” he said.

The Premier also said that the state government is currently carrying out initiatives to supply electricity through the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) project as well as water supply via the Sarawak Alternative Water Supply (Sawas) project at a total cost of RM5 billion.

“These projects are expected to be completed in 2025,” he added.

Also present at the dinner were Regent of Pahang Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Acting Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Dewan Negara Speaker Tan Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, and State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki.

The ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ tour, which was inspired by His Majesty, kicked off in Tawau, Sabah on Sept 3. The tour in Sabah ended on Sept 7 before entering Sarawak via Brunei.

The tour for the royal convoy ends today in Telok Melano, Sematan.

The 11-day trip, involving a distance of 2,154km along the Pan Borneo Highway connecting Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, was held to realise the dream of Al-Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizan to reach out to the people of Sarawak and Sabah.