Warm Greetings from Sabah, Malaysian Borneo!
Last month, August was Merdeka (Independence) Month. The Federation of Malaya States became Independent from British colonial rule on 31st August in 1957. Our Borneo-sister State of Sarawak became Independent on 22nd July 1963 and Sabah’s Independence Day was on 31st August1963. The Federation of Malaya States, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah, formed MALAYSIA on 16th September 1963. Singapore withdrew from Malaysia to become the Republic of Singapore on 09August 1965. It is a historical national journey and this year 2014, we celebrate the 51st Anniversary of the Formation of MALAYSIA! Come see the colourful Malaysia Day Parade at the Padang Merdeka, on 16th September, 07:00am right in the heart of Kota Kinabalu. This is where it all happened 51 years ago! Do Come Join in the Malaysia Day Celebrations! Happy Birthday MALAYSIA!!
The annual Sandakan Memorial Day Service held on 15 August, was well attended by local communities and students, including about 200 Australians. The Australian High Commissioner HE Rod Smith PSM was present as were the US Deputy Ambassador Edgard Kagan, British Defence Advisor Captain Ken Taylor and New Zealand Defence Advisor Captain Alecc Sharif. The 1964 Veterans of the Royal Australian Engineers 7th Field Squadron Operation were also at the Service, as they commemorate the 50th Anniversary of their assignment in Sabah, during the Confrontation period. Also in August was held the tough Endurance Race 5th Colorcoil TMBT Ultra Trail Marathon with close to 1,000 participants racing on the difficult mountainous terrain along the shoulders of Mount Kinabalu. On that same weekend was the 2014 Asian Mountain Bike Cup with 220 participants. Sabah is truly an Adventure Destination!!
This September, Sabah hosts 7 Festivals and Events: The Malaysian Crafts Promotions; Flower Festival and the much awaited Borneo International Orchid Show; the Betitik celebrate the Bajau cultural heritage of music and dance; the 4th Borneo Eco Film Festival. The Brunei ethnic community of Sabah will host the annual Pesta GAMBUS, a traditional lute of Middle-eastern origin in Papar. There will be Gambus musical performances and competitions. Last but not least is the exciting annual BORNEO BIRD FESTIVAL in Sandakan, known as the Gateway to Borneo’s wildlife and the BORNEO BIRD RACE will flag-off at the Kinabalu Park onward to Sandakan Rainforest; flying to Ulu Temburung in Brunei and the final leg at the Borneo Highlands in Sarawak… twitchers and birders from UK & Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and from all over Malaysia will Race over Borneo with their binoculars in search of birds, birds and more birds …
The Government of Malaysia established the ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command) dedicated to oversee the entire East Coast of Sabah. The kidnapping incidents that occurred were at the isolated resort islands of Pom Pom, the Singamata Reef and Mabul Island, off Semporna. Since the incidents, ESSCOM implemented night curfew on the ESSZONE areas (Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Tawau and Semporna) and the revised time, (as current) is 07pm to 05am to manage and to overcome illegal infiltrations and smugglers. All resorts in the East Coast are working closely with the authorities, enhanced security measures and installations including radar for the safety of locals, visitors and guests. The Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Home Affairs deployed and increased security forces and maritime assets to the East Coast Sabah, including around the famed dive destinations off Semporna. Tourists continue to visit the pristine dive island-destinations, including the world-renowned Sipadan. International naturalists from UK, Europe, North Americas, Australia and Japan continue to visit and stay at our Parks, Nature and Wildlife Sanctuaries to view the orang utans, proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, turtles and more. They are happy and satisfied with the enhanced security measures.
Sabah is peaceful. Sabahans are warm friendly people. Visitor arrivals to Sabah, the first-half of 2014 increased about 8% over the same period last year. North East Asian arrivals increased +14.4%, with Japan by +24.6%, China & Hong Kong +21.5% and South Korea about +18%. Arrivals from North America increased +10.6% and from Europe +12%.
The Malaysia Airlines’ mysterious disappearance of MH370 on 08March and the shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine on 17July, killing everyone on board were tragic incidents, unprecedented in the global airlines and travel industries. Let us continue to pray for the passengers, crew and the families of both flights.
Kota Kinabalu, popularly referred to as ‘KK’ is Sabah’s capital city situated on the West Coast Division of Sabah. It is a cosmopolitan city, a bustling financial and business center; busy with international visitors, tourists and conference delegates. Both English and Mandarin are widely spoken as second language. The Expat community reflect KK’s international direct connectivity to major capitals in the region. It is business as usual in Sabah.
Terima Kasih. Thank you.