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TAWAU, Sept 15 -- Each generation in Tawau has a different perspective when they talk about the formation of Malaysia 58 years ago.
Former Tawau district chief Kee Mohd Ayub Kee Abu Bakar, 72, said Malaysia Day which is celebrated every year to commemorate the establishment of Malaysia, reminded him of the struggle of the older generation who wanted to change the lives of people in Sabah for the better.
“I was 14 years old when I heard via the radio the announcement of the establishment of Malaysia after Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore formed a federation on Sept 16, 1963, which has brought many positive impacts to the district, especially in terms of economy and security.
“If anyone says that we are still backward, it is wrong. I used to cycle to my school, namely St. Patrick’s School from Jalan Utara and all I saw was rubber trees along the road. After 58 years, Tawau has become a place that is known as the education hub for the east coast (of Sabah),” he told Bernama here.
In terms of security, Kee Mohd Ayub said during the Indonesian confrontation which had also affected Tawau and Pulau Sebatik, hundreds of security personnel from Malaya were deployed to ensure security in the district.
“The Gurkha soldiers were dispatched to Tawau and Pulau Sebatik while the 3rd battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment personnel were deployed to Kalabakan which sparked clashes between security forces and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) on Dec 29, 1963,” he said.
For Abd Mansah Abdul Samad, 44, Malaysia Day reminded him of the sacrifices of the security forces and his late father Abdul Samad Piatu as a Home Guard personnel who served during the Kalabakan confrontation.
“Only family members and the older generation of Kampung Kalabakan know their story, my father also fought with the army and police against the TNI when the confrontation took place. My father told me that he as well as six other friends and a policeman were at the Kalabakan police station when they were ambushed by the TNI.
“Without the Home Guard, the Kalabakan Police Station might have fallen to the enemy. My father was willing to risk his life to take the ammunitions stored in the police station though it was raining with bullets. It was indeed a huge sacrifice by my father,” he said.
Abdul Mansah said Sabah has achieved progress and development since the formation of Malaysia 58 years ago.
He said various facilities have been provided to the people in remote areas like Kalabakan and the surrounding areas, such as paved roads as well as water and 24-hour electricity supply.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Tawau Maritime Zone deputy director commander Amiludin Yenggah said Malaysia Day has always been a struggle for him to provide security to the maritime community in Tawau by ensuring 24-hour monitoring and control of the district’s waters.
“I hope all Tawau MMEA personnel will be given the strength to face the various challenges in carrying out their duties, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We not only have to face the entry of illegal immigrants in Tawau waters but also the spread of COVID-19 and so far, 25 Tawau Maritime Zone personnel had tested positive for COVID-19 througout the implementation of the Op Cegah PATI (OCP),” he said.
Tawau Health Clinic medical officer Dr Nurshazrah Najwa Zaini said she was optimistic that the Malaysian family would soon be freed from COVID-19 through the implementation of the COVID-19 National Immunisation Programme.
“We have been battling for almost two years now. Healthcare workers have sacrificed their energy and time to ensure that those infected with this deadly virus get the best treatment.
“Through the vaccination programme, healthcare workers had to travel to remote villages in Tawau and Kalabakan just to ensure that all residents will be vaccinated immediately,” she said.
Pulau Sebatik has become the first area in Tawau to achieve herd immunity with the number of COVID-19 vaccine recipients reaching 98 per cent.
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