US sailor impressed with safety, charm of Sabah


Joniston speaking to Steve Kane, 70, and Sail Malaysia managing director Sazli Kamal Basha.

LAHAD DATU (Aug 13): In an exciting first-time journey, 70-year-old Steve Kane from Las Vegas Nevada set foot in Sabah just four weeks ago through the Sail Malaysia rally.

Kane’s visit not only marked his first experience in North Borneo, the Land Below The Wind, but also his inaugural exploration of Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Delighted by his time spent here, Kane’s impressions highlight the safety and charm of Sabah, leaving an indelible mark on his perception.

“It’s a picturesque state that’s very different from my home country. I’m loving every minute of my time here,” he remarked, emphasising the sheer delight he found in discovering Sabah’s unique blend of culture, architecture, and natural splendor.

What struck Kane as particularly exceptional was the state’s commitment to safety, praising the efforts of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) and recognising its critical role in providing a safe maritime environment.

“I was impressed with the safety and the ESSCom. I have no fear of pirates,” Kane confidently declared, adding to Sabah’s reputation as a safe destination for tourists seeking peace of mind while indulging in adventure.

Kane’s journey to Sabah was sparked by an invitation from a friend to join Sail Malaysia, where they set sail from the Philippines to Kota Kinabalu as the first starting point in Sabah.

Prior to his visit, Kane admitted to being unaware of Sabah’s existence, even mistaking Borneo for an independent country.

“I’ve never been to Malaysia and in fact, this is my first time travelling to Southeast Asia. Now, I have learnt that Borneo is a vast island and shared by three nations.

“I had a great time here and we have gone to a few ports. I am very much impressed by what I had seen and experienced,” he said, expressing his enthusiasm to recommend Sabah to friends in the boating and tourism industry.

Kane, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, stated that he would like to return to Sabah in the future, a desire shared by many of his fellow sailors.

On Saturday, W Bay Payang hosted a cultural dinner for the Rally’s participants which was attended by Assistant Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister cum chairman of Sabah Tourism Board, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

Present were Lahad Datu district officer Firuz Idzualdeen Mohd Dzul, Sail Malaysia Managing Director Sazli Kamal Basha, Lahad Datu Tourism Association chairman Joe Wong, Rural Tourism Association Sabah (Fertas) president Walter Kandayon, and local community.

This year’s Sail Malaysia has garnered the participation of 20 boats from the United States, Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, France and the Philippines.

Among this fleet, 12 vessels sailed into Lahad Datu’s waters while the rest berthed in Kota Kinabalu’s habour.

During the dinner, Joniston mingled with the audience and listened to their experience as well as encounters throughout their sailing journey.

He emphasised the profound significance of the Sail Malaysia Rally for Sabah, particularly its rural districts, and called on the participants to spread the words about the State’s numerous attractions and that it is a safe destination to visit.

“It showcases not only the natural beauty of Sabah’s coastal areas but also provides a unique opportunity for the rural communities to engage with a global audience, fostering cultural exchange and economic growth.

“By consistently attracting the sailing community to Sabah’s shores, we can become a prominent hub for maritime tourism activities,” he said.

Throughout their journey through Sabah’s waters, participants will stop at numerous locations to discover the state’s beauty, including Kudat, Kunak, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Semporna.

Joniston was in Lahad Datu for an official working visit to engage with the tourism industry players and stakeholders in the district.

Earlier Sunday, Joniston also met with the Dusun Segamo community and launched their newly built floating jetty base, which is funded by the state Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Environment.