Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak retraced his father’s footsteps as the first premier to visit Keningau and Tambunan districts, where his father as deputy premier of the federation of Malaya set foot in 1963 to convince the reluctant native chieftains to be part of a new nation called Malaysia.
“Looking at the concept of 1Malaysia, I think one of the most important things is mutual respect. My respect for the KDM community is the reason why I have come here,” he said.
Like his father Abdul Razak Hussein, Najib visited the the wooden double-storey Rumah Besar, or the Big House residence of the late native leader Orang Kaya Kaya (OKK) Sedomon Gunsanad, in Bingkor near Keningau town on June 17 after flying in on June 16 by helicopter from the Kota Kinabalu airport with his wife Rosmah Mansor.
Abdul Razak Hussein in 1963 visited Keningau to explain the proposed formation of Malaysia to the gathering of native leaders from Keningau, Tambunan, Pensiangan, Nabawan, Sook, Ranau and Tenom districts.
“It was not easy to convince Sedomon at the time. I found out that my father called Sedomon “father” even though he was holding the post of deputy prime minister.
“So, the principle that I learned is that even though you are holding the highest office, a leader must always be humble and willing to meet the people and ‘Insya Allah’ (God willing), the people will always be with us,” Najib said.
Najib viewed the Sedomon family gallery and the top-floor balcony where his father Abdul Razak had held discussions with Sedomon almost 50 years ago.
The prime minister also partook in “makanan kampung” (village food) comprising sweet potato and boiled corn and groundnuts by the locals in his walkabout at the Bingkor market.
In Keningau the previous evening, Najib came in a minivan for the national level Kaamatan festival open house.
Najib explained 1Malaysia in three words – tolerance, acceptance and celebrate.
He said it was vital for one to be able to tolerate with situations rather to enable one to accept.
“And when we have both tolerance and acceptance, then we have to celebrate the ability to live despite the differences.”
He added it was also in line with the event’s theme “Harmonious 1Malaysia”.