KUCHING: Since a visit by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last month, folks of two Iban villages in the interior of Sarawak are all excited.Nanga Ngemah and Nanga Jagau are in the Rejang Security Command Area (Rascom), a resettlement area established in 1972 by Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Najib’s father and the country’s second prime minister, to protect them from communist terrorists.
“The folk of Nanga Ngemah and Nanga Jagau have been waiting for 38 years for a road to link the two resettlements together,” said Thomas who hails from Nanga Jagau, the most isolated of the settlements there.
Thomas, a civil servant, hopes that the government would expedite all projects worth RM35 million announced during Najib’s trip.
The new road would reduce the four hours now needed for one-way trip and more importantly, help the villagers save on fuel which came to a hefty RM360 for a return trip, he added.
Many there still remembers Tun Abdul Razak’s visit to the Rumah Dadom longhouse in Nanga Bugau in Sungai Kajah, Kanowit, in early 1972.
Conny Banji, a journalist with a local English daily, is from Nanga Ngungun, one of the four major regrouping and resettlement areas of Rascom.
Najib, she said, was visiting not only cities and big towns in his “turun padang” trips, but also small and isolated rural places as well.
“The prime minister is giving a lot of attention to rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak which is a most fortunate happening.
“He will get a first hand account of the rural folks’ problems and expectations. Hopefully, he will think of ways to solve at least some of them, including coming up with suitable land use projects like in all Rascom resettlement areas to generate sufficient job opportunities and income for the people,” she added.
As the Prime Minister, Najib can do a lot of things to assist ordinary rural folks in improving their quality of life, she added.
In his frequent visits, no matter which corner of the state, Najib is welcomed with nothing but warmth accorded to a favourite son.
“He is very easy to meet and very friendly. This is the first time that I see a Prime Minister who is willing to go all over Sarawak and Sabah without much need of protocol,” said Jerome Roni, a Sabahan married to a local.
Jerome, an assistant engineer with Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Sarawak, sees it as a reflection of Najib’s commitment to his 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now” policy.
For Sam Bayang, also a civil servant, the Bumiputera laboratory to handle issues concerning bumiputeras in Sarawak and Sabah mooted by Najib under the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) programme was timely. Sam said Sarawak still lagged behind, especially in rural infrastructure, even 47 years after being independence.
“I think his new approach of walkabout in observing, meeting and listening to people from all walks of life at the ground level also tells a lot of his effectiveness as a national leader,” he said. — Bernama